The Pentagon on Monday confirmed the death of the first US military service member to the COVID-19 coronavirus, APA reports citing Sputnik.
According to a Pentagon news release, the New Jersey Army National Guardsman passed away Saturday. He had been in the hospital since March 21.
"Today is a sad day for the Department of Defense as we have lost our first American service member – active, reserve or Guard – to Coronavirus," Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is quoted as saying in the release. "This is a stinging loss for our military community, and our condolences go out to his family, friends, civilian co-workers and the entire National Guard community. The news of this loss strengthens our resolve to work ever more closely with our interagency partners to stop the spread of COVID-19."
As of March 27, the Pentagon has reported 652 cases of the coronavirus within the Department of Defense (DoD). Out of the total number of patients, 343 are active-duty military members, 135 are civilians, 111 are dependents and 63 are contractors, CNBC reported. There have been two other deaths within the DoD.
Last week, a US Marine became the first service member stationed inside the Pentagon to test positive for COVID-19. The service member is currently in isolation at his home.
The Pentagon on March 25 also raised the military's health protection level on all DoD installations globally to the second-highest setting, known as “Charlie,” as the number of COVID-19-positive service members continues to increase. Under the Charlie designation, large-scale meetings at some DoD installations will be canceled, people's temperatures will need to be taken before they are allowed into military buildings, and some entrances to buildings will be restricted, Pentagon spokesperson Alyssa Farah told reporters, Sputnik reported.
The latest data from Worldometer reveals that there are more than 782,000 cases of the coronavirus worldwide, and more than 37,000 people have died as a result. In the US, there are more than 161,000 coronavirus cases, and almost 3,000 people have died from the disease.