Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

DoD ready to help with Coronavirus, but capability limited

Misook Choe, a laboratory manager with the Emerging Infectious Disease branch at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Md., runs a test during research into a solution for the new coronavirus, COVID-19, March 3, 2020. The Emerging Infectious Diseases branch, established in 2018, has the explicit mission to survey, anticipate and counter the mounting threat of emerging infectious diseases of key importance to U.S. forces in the homeland and abroad. (U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Walters) Misook Choe, a laboratory manager with the Emerging Infectious Disease branch at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Md., runs a test during research into a solution for the new coronavirus, COVID-19, March 3, 2020. The Emerging Infectious Diseases branch, established in 2018, has the explicit mission to survey, anticipate and counter the mounting threat of emerging infectious diseases of key importance to U.S. forces in the homeland and abroad. (U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Walters)

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

"The Department of Defense is ready, willing and able to support civilian authorities to the greatest extent possible with the direction of the president," Jonathan Rath Hoffman said during a Pentagon news conference. "We just want to make sure that the conversation that is being had is informed by the facts of what is possible, what is not, and what those trade-offs are."

While the U.S. military is often depicted in movies and on television as having the capacity to stand up vast medical capabilities at a moment's notice, both Hoffman and Air Force Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Paul Friedrichs, the Joint Staff surgeon, cautioned against overestimating the department's capacity to provide medical capabilities to support a contagion like coronavirus.

Hoffman told reporters that DoD has only about 2% to 3% of the number of hospital beds that the private sector has. The department runs only 36 hospitals in the United States, Friedrichs said, many of which are ill-suited for caring for large numbers of contagious patients.

"Many of them are configured to support, as you might imagine, our immediate military needs," Friedrichs said. "They take care of the active duty population and their families and some retirees. Some large facilities such as the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, have much more diverse services," he added. "We have a number of smaller facilities in more remote locations, like Fort Wainwright, Alaska, [which] has a small hospital that offers obstetrical services and basic community hospital type services," the Joint Staff surgeon said.

Hoffman pointed out that military doctors are better trained for wartime injuries than for treating communicable illnesses such as COVID-19.

"Our doctors are, unsurprisingly, trained highly in traumatic injuries and [for] dealing with traumatic injuries," he said. "We have a much younger population that we're dealing with treating in our hospitals. And so all of these kind of factor into what is that capability we have for a potential outbreak that generally has been more devastating to older persons who require a different type of attention than we normally do."

Even military tent hospitals that can be set up ad-hoc to respond to an emergency are designed for trauma care, not contagious diseases, Friedrichs said.

"We do have tent hospitals. They are deployable hospitals. ... The challenge is they're designed to take care of trauma patients and combat casualties," he said. "We have supported humanitarian operations. ... We've supported relief efforts during natural disasters. But what we're trying to be very careful of is not over-promising, you know. We want to be factual about what we have.

"Our fixed facilities are designed to the force that we have," he continued. "There are not thousand-bed medical centers all over the United States. They are, for the most part, small community hospitals. Our deployable hospitals range in size and range in capabilities that are very much focused and designed to take care of those in combat."

While both the National Guard and the Reserve components have medical doctors that can be called out to provide support, if needed, both Hoffman and Friedrichs noted that medical personnel in the Guard and Reserve are often also medical personnel in their private-sector jobs.

"If you mobilize the Guard and Reserve medical personnel from their civilian jobs, they're no longer in their civilian jobs, and that directly impacts the community where they worked, and that's the trade-off that — whether it's a natural disaster, or the coronavirus or anything else — that's part of the trade-off that we look at as we offer options going forward," Friedrichs said.

So far, Hoffman said, the Defense Department has received requests for assistance from the Department of Health and Human Services for quarantining and housing of people who were evacuated from China, those who had been on the Grand Princess and Diamond Princess cruise ships, and those who flew back to the United States through 11 feeder airports and needed to be quarantined.

"We have not received any other [requests] at this time that we have responded to," he said.

Hoffmann told reporters that DOD has seen 37 reported cases of COVID-19: 18 military personnel, 13 military family members, three civilian employees and three contractors.

To stem further spread of the coronavirus, he said, the department has issued updated guidance on domestic travel. Effective today through May 11, all domestic travel for military personnel is halted unless it's for mission-essential travel or humanitarian reasons.

Additionally, he said, DoD has given directors of installation commissaries additional authorities to manage their inventory to provide the best service to military members and their families.

"Today the department has given authority to local commissary store directors to impose restrictions on purchasing high-demand products," Hoffman said. "This will be in coordination with base leadership. The department is working to make sure that service members and their families on base understand these changes and have access to the goods that they need."

Disclaimer: Re-published content may be edited for length and clarity. Read original post.

You also may be interested in...

DHA-PI 6205.01: Medical Logistics Guidance for the DoD Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Procedural Instruction (DHA-PI), based on the authority of References (a) and (b), and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) through (n), establishes the Defense Health Agency's (DHA's) procedures for ordering, receiving, and managing COVID-19 Vaccines inventory and ancillary kits.

DHA-IPM 20-004: Department of Defense (DoD) Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program Implementation

Policy

This Defense Health Agency (DHA) Interim Procedures Memorandum (IPM), based on the authority of References (a) through (d), and in accordance with the guidance cited in References (e) through (aa), establishes the DHA’s procedures to implement instructions, assign responsibilities, and prescribe procedures for the COVID-19 Vaccination Program. This DHA-IPM applies to DHA, DHA Components (activities under the authority direction, and control of the DHA), Military Departments (MILDEP), and the United States Coast Guard (CG). This DHA-IPM cancels and replaces DHA-IPM 20-004, “Department of Defense (DoD) Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program Implementation,” December 13, 2020.

TAB A MEO COVID19 Medical Coding Policy

Policy

Memorandum for DHA Staff - Military Medical Treatment Facilities to Implement Updated DHA COVID-19 Medical Coding Policy

  • Identification #: N/A
  • Date: 3/25/2021
  • Type: Memorandums
  • Topics: Coronavirus

DHA COVID19 Medical Coding PolicyV5 1v

Policy

Establishes the DHA procedures to standardize the coding for Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) within military medical treatment facilities (MTFs). This memorandum replaces DHA-Policy Memorandum 20-003 of July 1, 2020. Attachment 1 was updated to include the 2021 procedure and diagnosis codes for COVID-19, including the new vaccination and treatment codes.

  • Identification #: 20-003
  • Date: 3/25/2021
  • Type: Memorandums
  • Topics: Coronavirus

Supplemental Guidance for Providing DoD Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccines to DoD Contractor Employees and Select Foreign Nationals

Policy

This memorandum provides supplemental guidance on the provision of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines, in accordance with reference (a). The Defense Health Agency (DHA) is the lead coordinating DoD Component for executing this guidance, in coordination with the Military Departments and other DoD Components as appropriate.

HA Guidance for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Laboratory Pre-Testing Questionnaire

Policy

This memorandum provides guidance for a COVID-19 laboratory pre-testing questionnaire that will be mandatory for all Active Duty Service members and encouraged for all other DoD beneficiaries treated at military medical treatment facilities.

Executive Order on Ensuring Access to United States Government COVID-19 Vaccines

Policy

This EO outlines who should receive priority access to COVID-19 vaccines developed in the United States or procured by the United States Government (“United States Government COVID-19 Vaccines”).

Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccine Guidance

Policy

This memorandum provides guidance on the provision of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines. The Defense Health Agency (DHA) is the lead coordinating DoD Component for executing this guidance, in coordination with the Military Departments and other DoD Components.

DHA-AI 3020-01: Return to the Workplace Staffing Plan in the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Environment

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Administrative Instruction (DHA-AI), based on the authority of References (a) through (b) and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) through (z3), establishes the Defense Health Agency's (DHA) plan to return to full operations and support the whole-of-government response, during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This DHA-AI also provides a preventive plan to monitor and assess for the appearance of new cases and implement those processes that will prevent them from impacting the workforce. The processes describe herein are intended to offer an actionable plan for the workforce to re-enter DHA Administrative Offices. See Appendix 1 for a summary of the DHA Administrative Office Reopening Plan. The plan uses the Force Health Protection Guidance and Health Protection Conditions (HPCON), in accordance with Reference (d), to ensure protection for the workforce, including the most vulnerable-to-serious complications from the virus while enabling DHA Administrative Offices to continue its mission. See Appendix 2 for the conceptual HPCON framework.

  • Identification #: 3020-01
  • Date: 11/3/2020
  • Type: Administrative Instructions
  • Topics: Coronavirus

DHA-AI 3020.01: Return to the Workplace Staffing Plan in the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Environment

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Administrative Instruction (DHA-AI), establishes the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) plan to return to full operations and support the whole-of-government response, during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and in preparation for regression or resurgence in COVID-19 cases that could impact the workforce.

  • Identification #: 3020.01
  • Date: 6/12/2020
  • Type: Administrative Instructions
  • Topics: Coronavirus

Military Medical Treatment Facilities to Implement Updated DHA COVID-19 Medical Coding Policy

Policy

The Defense Health Agency (DHA) Memorandum, based on the authority of References (a) and (b), and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) and (d), establishes the DHA’s procedures to standardize the coding for Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) Military Medical Treatment Facilities (MTFs). This memorandum cancels and replaces DHA- Policy Memorandum 20-003 of (13 April 2020). A change was issued since the cancelled Memorandum 20-003 of (13 April 2020), the Attachment titles were updated to reflect that Attachments 1, 2, and 4 are considered Policies as opposed to Guidance.

  • Identification #: 20-003
  • Date: 5/13/2020
  • Type: Memorandums
  • Topics: Coronavirus

DODI 6200.03: Public Health Emergency Management within the Department of Defense

Policy

In accordance with DoD Directive (DoDD) 5124.02, this issuance: • Establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and provides direction to ensure mission assurance and readiness for public health emergencies caused by all-hazards incidents. • Defines a public health emergency within the DoD to include the occurrence or imminent threat of an illness or health condition that poses a high probability of a significant number of deaths, serious or long-term disabilities, widespread exposure to an infectious or toxic agent, overwhelmed health care resources, or severe degradation of mission capabilities. • Provides DoD policy for management of public health emergencies, in accordance with DoD Instruction (DoDI) 6055.17, through integration with the DoD Emergency Management (EM) Program. • Outlines the public health emergency health powers, roles, and responsibilities of the military installation commander, including the authority for restriction of movement. • Details procedures for internal and external notifications of DoD-declared public health emergencies. • Clarifies the PHEM roles and responsibilities of the medical treatment facility (MTF) commander or director, the public health emergency officer (PHEO), and the medical emergency manager (MEM).

  • Identification #: N/A
  • Date: 11/25/2019
  • Type: Instructions
  • Topics: Public Health

Embedded Fragment Analyses

Policy

Clarification of the Requirement for Continuation of Semi-Annual Reporting of Results of Embedded Fragment Analyses

Influenza Surveillance Program

Policy

Sentinel Sites for the 2014-2015 Influenza Surveillance Program

Deployment Limiting Mental Disorders and Psychotrophic Medications

Policy

Policy memorandum about Deployment Limiting Mental Disorders and Psychotrophic Medications

<< < 1 2 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 2

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.