Skip to main content

Military Health System

Surveillance Snapshot: A Simple Model Estimating the Impact of COVID-19 on Lost Duty Days Among U.S. Service Members

Image of U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Julian Gordon administers a COVID-19 test to a U.S. Marine. U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Julian Gordon, left, a preventative medicine technician with Marine Rotational Force - Darwin, administers a COVID-19 test to a U.S. Marine with MRF-D, at Royal Australian Air Force Base, Darwin, NT, Australia, March 22, 2021. Marines and Sailors with MRF-D are required to conduct strict COVID-19 mitigation procedures prior to arrival in Darwin, in compliance with Northern Territory Health Authorities. All service members must provide three documented negative COVID-19 swab tests throughout their travel and prior to being released from a 14-day quarantine period. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Micha Pierce)

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Since the start of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the Department of Defense (DOD) has reported 226,510 cases of COVID-19 among military members as of 25 Aug. 2021.1 Managing COVID-19 infections and implementing quarantines of their contacts could alter the training and mission plans for most, if not all, military units. Although there was robust prognostication regarding the impact of COVID-19 on lost duty days in the early months of the pandemic,2,3 little has been published in this area since then.

Simple modeling can provide an important estimate of the impact of COVID-19 on lost duty days among U.S. service members. The model used in this analysis assumes that each reported case undergoes 10 days of isolation and allows for variation in the number of close contacts (e.g., low [2], medium [4] and high [7]) and the length of quarantine (7 or 14 days). This model estimates the impact of a single COVID-19 case for each of the possible values of close contacts and quarantine length and also extrapolates the DOD-wide impact in terms of number of lost duty days (Table).

The model is a gross approximation of lost duty days and may both underestimate and overestimate lost duty days due to several factors. The model ignores the lost duty days of the 34 deaths and 2,036 hospitalizations among military service members reported by DOD since the start of the pandemic.1 This model also does not take into account the indirect lost duty days affecting service members charged with special duties in tracking, caring for, and administratively handling service members in isolation and quarantine. It also ignores the lost duty days of cases diagnosed in family members and the impact of lost duty days on non-military close contacts, including family members and DOD civilian employees. Furthermore, this model does not estimate the cumulative impact on unit readiness of multiple simultaneous or consecutive COVID-19 infections within a command. Finally, this model may overestimate lost duty days by including weekend days and it is unclear if the military members included in the DOD case report1 include inactivated reserve/Guard members who may not be on duty.

The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted the availability of service members to unit Commanders. Using this model, one can estimate a best-case scenario of the loss of 0.71% of all duty days, with a worst-case scenario of the loss of around 3.2% of all duty days in the DOD during the period of March 1, 2020 to Aug. 25, 2021. When this loss is placed in the context of 3 to 8 members of a unit being unavailable for a mission, deployment, or training event due to a single infection, the impact on unit readiness is easily seen. Preventing a single case has a far-reaching impact on readiness, conserving 24–98 duty days of availability to Commanders. Although some service members were able to recover a portion of these lost days by teleworking, they represent the minority and were primarily among higher ranks.

Prevention of COVID-19 infections can have a significant positive impact on service member availability for missions and training. Ongoing efforts using all available infection prevention tools, including immunization, non-pharmaceutical interventions, and policies designed to prevent new infections should be pursued by Commanders and leaders at all levels of the DOD in order to optimize training tempo and readiness activities.

Author affiliations: Department of Public Health, Madigan Army Medical Center, U.S. Army, WA (LTC Mease and CPT Smith).

Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

References

  1. Coronavirus: DOD Response. U.S. Department of Defense. Published 3 May 2021. Accessed 25 Aug. 2021. https://www.defense.gov/Explore/Spotlight/Coronavirus
  2. Burke T, Dycus C, O'Hanlon M, Reid E, Worst J. COVID-19 and military readiness: Preparing for the long game. Brookings. Published April 22, 2020. Accessed 4 May 2021. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2020/04/22/covid-19-and-military-readiness-preparing-for-the-long-game
  3. DiEuliis D, Junor L. Ready or Not: Regaining Military Readiness during COVID19. Inst Natl Strateg Stud. Published online April 10, 2020. Accessed 4 May 2021. https://inss.ndu.edu/Media/News/Article/2145282/ready-or-not-regaining-military-readiness-during-covid19 

TABLE. Impact of quarantine length (7 versus 14 days) on military readiness, by lost duty days after a COVID-19 infection, as of 25 Aug 2021

You also may be interested in...

Alcohol-Related Emergency Department Visits, Hospitalizations, and Co-Occurring Injuries, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2009–2018

Article
7/1/2020
Sailors simulate a drunk driving accident

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Letter to the Editor: G6PD Deficiency in the Tafenoquine Era

Article
6/1/2020
Female Anopheles funestus mosquito that had landed on a human skin surface and was in the process of obtaining its blood meal.

Letter to the Editor: G6PD Deficiency in the Tafenoquine Era

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Animal-Related Injuries in Veterinary Services Personnel, U.S. Army, 2001–2018

Article
6/1/2020
Soldier and veterinarian assisted by animal care specialist use a stethoscope on a dog

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Summary of the 2018–2019 Influenza Season Among Department of Defense Service Members and Other Beneficiaries

Article
6/1/2020
A flu shot vaccination sits on a table at 184th Sustainment Command headquarters in Monticello, Mississippi on Feb. 8, 2020. The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good wellness habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help prevent the spread of germs. (Mississippi Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Veronica McNabb)

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Brief Report: Direct Care Cost of Heat Illness to the Army, 2016–2018

Article
6/1/2020
Thermometer

Brief Report: Direct Care Cost of Heat Illness to the Army, 2016–2018

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Surveillance Snapshot: Illness and Injury Burdens, Recruit Trainees, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019

Article
5/1/2020
A Marine Corps Staff Sgt inspects a platoon. (U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Zachary Beatty)

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Morbidity Burdens Attributable to Various Illnesses and Injuries, Deployed Active and Reserve Component Service Members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019

Article
5/1/2020
A physician examines a patient

Morbidity Burdens Attributable to Various Illnesses and Injuries, Deployed Active and Reserve Component Service Members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Special Report: Prevalence of Selected Underlying Health Conditions Among Active Component Army Service Members with Coronavirus Disease 2019, 11 February–6 April 2020

Article
5/1/2020
Hospital ship USNS Comfort returns to its homeport after treating patients in New York and New Jersey in support of the COVID-19 pandemic

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Special Report: Early Use of ICD-10-CM Code “U07.1, COVID-19” to Identify 2019 Novel Coronavirus Cases in Military Health System Administrative Data

Article
5/1/2020
Hospital ship USNS Comfort returns to its homeport after treating patients in New York and New Jersey in support of the COVID-19 pandemic

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Absolute and Relative Morbidity Burdens Attributable to Various Illnesses and Injuries, Non-service Member Beneficiaries of the Military Health System, 2019

Article
5/1/2020
A Navy doctor examines a young patient

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Absolute and Relative Morbidity Burdens Attributable to Various Illnesses and Injuries, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019

Article
5/1/2020
A physician examines a patient

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Ambulatory Visits, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019

Article
5/1/2020
A U.S. naval officer listens through his stethoscope to hear his patient’s lungs

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Medical Evacuations out of the U.S. Central Command, Active and Reserve Components, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019

Article
5/1/2020
Airmen from the 19th Medical Group litter-carry a simulated patient onto a C-130J

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Surveillance Snapshot: Illness and Injury Burdens, Reserve Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019

Article
5/1/2020
Soldiers from each of the United States Army’s three components partnered together to conduct a training exercise

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Hospitalizations, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019

Article
5/1/2020
Medical Service members prepare resuscitation on patient

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report
<< < ... 6 7 8 9 10  ... > >> 
Showing results 106 - 120 Page 8 of 13
Refine your search
Last Updated: October 26, 2022
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery