Back to Top Skip to main content

Early Detection Support for Troops During COVID-19

Woman in lab wearing mask and testing samples Lt. Cmdr. Danett Bishop, from Hawthorn Woods, Illinois, tests respiratory samples in the biological safety lab of amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jonathan Berlier)

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Coronavirus

The quick spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 has caused many health organizations including the Defense Health Agency’s Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division to innovate, using resources readily available in their arsenal.  

One example of this innovation lies within AFHSD’s Global Emerging Infections Surveillance (GEIS) program. The team funded the production of Research Use Only testing kits and sent them to GEIS laboratory partners located across the globe; targeting countries with high totals of positive COVID-19 cases. Navy mobile laboratories embedded on military ships, such as the USS Theodore Roosevelt received these kits. Military commanders then used the kits as respiratory surveillance tools on their sailors and Marines.

The Department of Defense funds the GEIS’s network of 16 medical research laboratories. This funding allowed the teams to quickly reach out to their partners and use their capabilities, such as the quick production of research assays, to support our forces. Assays are an investigative procedure in laboratory medicine that assess or measure the presence, amount, or activity of a military-relevant pathogen—in this case, the current coronavirus. This assay is similar to those created by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Two soldiers looking at computers
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Ernesto Santa Ana, right, and Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Maria F. Potts-Szoke work in Naval Medical Research Center's mobile laboratory aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). (U.S. Navy/MCSN Kaylianna Genier)

“By rapidly distributing the RUO assays to our global partners and to three Navy mobile laboratories on shipboard settings, we were able to provide a much needed testing capability for this emerging pathogen in an operational environment,” explained U.S. Public Health Service Cmdr. (Dr.) Mark Scheckelhoff, who leads the respiratory infections focus area for GEIS. This assay supports surveillance studies only and not the clinical management of cases.

“The ability to procure and distribute the CDC RUO assay outside of a clinical laboratory setting provided a rapid and reliable source of COVID-19 testing and detection materials that were distributed to all of our network laboratories and allowed rapid implementation of testing activities,” said Scheckelhoff.

“As the COVID-19 cases began to increase around the world, military commanders in an operational environment had these RUO resources to conduct respiratory surveillance for COVID-19 exposure,” said Sean Friendly, chief of administration & operations at the AFHSD.

One recent example involved the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island in South Carolina.  

"Our partner, the Naval Health Research Center laboratory was able to use their surveillance capabilities to provide the assistance to detect the first cases,” said Friendly.  He recounts a report from Dr. Chris Myers at NHRC in San Diego, California; the lab collected samples from the recruit population of Parris Island. GEIS-funded respiratory surveillance projects at NHRC provided the capability and personnel to test the recruits and quickly identify COVID-19.   

GEIS has worked with the NHRC for several years and supported ongoing surveillance of respiratory diseases among recruits and trainees. This network of health partners continues to grow and evolve as GEIS coordinates with NHRC as well as other network partners. The network’s ability to integrate the priorities identified by the Combatant Commands into its mission creates an agile organization ready to respond to needs as they occur.

Since 1997, GEIS has funded key laboratory/epidemiological work across the DoD. It has also coordinated crucial infectious disease surveillance projects that could impact military operations. GEIS uses key DoD medical research laboratories—such as the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, the Navy Medical Research Center, and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research’s global lab enterprise in Maryland; and the Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine in Dayton, Ohio — to establish an integrated network that studies the impact of infectious diseases and respond to outbreaks and epidemics.

“In lay terms, GEIS’s projects and activities have allowed DoD to maintain world-wide critical surveillance capabilities that continue to provide crucial support during events of public health concern like the COVID-19 pandemic,” stated Navy Capt. Guillermo Pimentel, GEIS chief.

You also may be interested in...

New Navy units join in the fight against COVID-19

Article
8/7/2020
Military nurse putting on PPE

This deployment marked the first use of the newly established Acute Care Team and Rapid Rural Response Team medical platforms.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Air Force updates medical courses with COVID-19 content, procedures

Article
8/7/2020
Two lab technicians wearing full PPE handling vials for testing

COVID-19 has pushed instructors and trainers to be more innovative.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Health Readiness | Combat Support

BAMC nurses: “It’s us against COVID”

Article
8/6/2020
Group of nurses at a hospital

With safety on the line, mistakes aren’t an option when it comes to PPE.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Madigan collects CCP in fight against COVID-19

Article
8/6/2020
Four people in a hospital room wearing masks

Convalescent plasma has been used for nearly a century to transfer antibodies from a recovered person to help protect another from an infection.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program

DHA to recognize COVID-19 front-line innovators and leaders

Article
8/5/2020
Hospital Corpsman administers a COVID-19 test to service member aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex.

Who are the COVID-19 change makers?

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Patient Safety | Patient Safety Champion Recognition Program

Indiana National Guard continues to train in the COVID-19 environment

Article
8/5/2020
Soldiers in the field, wearing masks and testing equipment

Training in a time of COVID-19

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Health Readiness

MHS asks COVID-19 recovered to donate plasma for seriously ill

Article
8/4/2020
Woman wearing mask and PPE holding a bag of plasma

Plasma donations needed in the fight against COVID-19

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program

MTFs plan and prepare to face any emergency or disaster

Article
8/4/2020
Hospital personnel surrounding a patient

Military hospitals make emergency plans and conduct practice drills long before a natural disaster strikes.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Emergency Preparedness and Response

Air Force mental health team provides for deployed troops

Article
8/4/2020
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nathan Davis, conducts a weekly Disaster Mental Health battlefield circulation walk around Quarantine Town.

The Disaster Mental Health team helps combat the stressors of the novel coronavirus and improves the overall well-being of service members of Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care | Mental Wellness | Coronavirus

DoD leadership updates Pentagon on COVID-19 testing capabilities

Article
8/3/2020
Image of Air Force Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Lee Payne speaking, with Pentagon sign behind him

How COVID-19 testing helps prevent spread of the virus

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Army Medicine leaders visit BACH’s COVID-19 frontlines

Article
8/3/2020
Soldier in mask speaking to other soldiers

The commander shared both successes and challenges in the face of a global pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Air Force medical technician drawn to caring for others

Article
7/31/2020
Woman in white chemical suit

"As a medic, my job is to test people for the virus to help make sure they’re safe."

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

In this Together: Military Couple Recovers from COVID-19, Donates Convalescent Plasma

Article
7/30/2020
Couple wearing masks, holding bags of plasma

There is information that suggests CCP might help some patients recover from the disease.

Recommended Content:

Armed Services Blood Program | Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program

Military Health System experts discuss COVID-19 innovations

Article
7/30/2020
Four men wearing masks, holding COVID-19 Airway Management Isolation Chamber

How quick thinking and new approaches are saving lives in the pandemic fight.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | July Toolkit

DoD COVID-19 Practice Management Guide Version 5

Technical Document
7/30/2020

This Practice Management Guide does not supersede DoD Policy. It is based upon the best information available at the time of publication. It is designed to provide information and assist decision making. It is not intended to define a standard of care and should not be construed as one. Neither should it be interpreted as prescribing an exclusive course of management. It was developed by experts in this field. Variations in practice will inevitably and appropriately occur when clinicians take into account the needs of individual patients, available resources, and limitations unique to an institution or type of practice. Every healthcare professional making use of this guideline is responsible for evaluating the appropriateness of applying it in the setting of any particular clinical situation. The Practice Management Guide is not intended to represent TRICARE policy. Further, inclusion of recommendations for specific testing and/or therapeutic interventions within this guide does not guarantee coverage of civilian sector care. Additional information on current TRICARE benefits may be found at www.tricare.mil or by contacting your regional TRICARE Managed Care Support Contractor.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 23

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.