Defense Department updates plan to protect service members from coronavirus

Posted at 11:25 AM, Mar 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-03 16:30:38-05

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Secretary of Defense says the department been working daily on plans to protect service members from the global coronavirus outbreak.

Defense Secretary Dr. Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley provided an update Monday.

Esper told reporters at the Pentagon that there have been daily working group meetings for the past six weeks that have been focused on making plans for both short and long-term scenarios, as well as impacts at home and internationally.

"Commanders of individually affected geographic commands have all the authority they need and we'll provide specific guidance to their troops as the situation continues to evolve. Meanwhile, NORTHCOM remains the global integrator for all of DOD efforts and entities," Esper said.

"My number one priority remains to protect our forces and their families; second, to safeguard our mission capabilities; and, third, to support the interagency whole-of-government approach," he added.

Already the outbreak has impacted some military exercises, including the postponement of one planned on the Korean Peninsula.

"We're taking a look at some other exercises to see if they need to be modified or changed," General Milley said.

"Here in the United States, we are making all due preparations to protect our bases, camps, and stations, and also to act in support of Health and Human Services. So we've got lots of capabilities, medical capabilities, housing, and so on and so forth that if required and directed by the secretary of defense we'll do our part," he added.

The Department of Defense says military research labs are also working to try and come up with a vaccine for coronavirus.