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Coronavirus diagnoses in military double in past week

Coronavirus diagnoses in military double in past week
With coronavirus diagnoses in the U.S. military doubling in the past week, commanding officers wear protective face masks in Apra Harbor, Guam, on Sunday. Photo by MCS1 Julio Rivera/U.S. Navy

April 6 (UPI) -- Coronavirus cases in the military more than doubled in the past week to 1,435 cases, a Defense Department statement on Monday said.

The figure was 569 a week ago, and 978 on Friday, and follows the pattern of civilian infections -- which doubled to over 300,000 in the United States compared to figures from one week ago -- the Military Times reported.

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Of the 1,435 under treatment, 119 have recovered and 37 remain hospitalized. The military infection rate, at 683 per million people, remains lower than the U. S. civilian rate of 932 per million.

COVID-19 was responsible for the death of one service member, a New Jersey National Guardsman, as well as two civilians working with the military, one dependent and two contractors.

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On Monday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper ordered the personal use of "cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain six feet of social distance in public areas or work centers," except within on-base residences.

The Navy, a week after an outbreak aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, reported 431 personnel diagnosed with the virus, including active duty members and Reservists. The Army reported 334 cases, the Air Force 281, the Marines 86, and the Army and Air National Guard 303. With 398 civilians, 336 dependents and 177 contractors reported to have contracted the virus, the Department of Defense total is 2,528.

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Some training exercises have been postponed. The Marines cut short a large-scale air exercise in Arizona and will temporarily end training at their Twentynine Palms, Calif., facility. A rotation to Australia was postponed, and a 60-day overseas training ban by the Defense Department left some Marines stranded in Norway, Italy and Spain.

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"[There] seems to be this belief that the best way for the Department of Defense to defeat COVID-19 is for us to stand down and stop operations around the world," Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said. "One, that's not going to happen. Two, we don't believe that's necessary."

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