With the services reporting 3,919 cases of COVID-19 among troops, Defense Department data released Friday shows a third consecutive week where cases grew by roughly 1,000.

The figure represents a bump of 5 percent in the previous 24 hours, or 194 new diagnoses, as well as a 31-percent bump over the week, or 933 new cases.

There were 955 cases in the week ending April 17, as well as 1,053 in the week ending April 10.

Currently, the infection rate among service members is 1,866-per-million, or 0.2 percent, versus 2,553-per-million in the general U.S. population, about 0.25 percent.

The week of April 20 brought with it new plans to start testing asymptomatic service members for COVID-19, according to where their units fall on a tiered-system of essential national security functions.

“We look at those as critical supplies that need to be pushed out,” Air Force Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters April 17, of plans to increase testing capacity. “But from a military perspective, we have to figure out how to use testing in ways to validate the readiness of our forces to deploy. Testing is going to become a critical part of that.”

With 100 percent of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt’s crew tested as of Thursday afternoon, that ships 840 cases represent 58 percent of the Navy’s infections and 21 percent of the military’s overall.

With more than half of those sailors testing positive after exhibiting no symptoms, DoD has jumped into action to work toward 100-percent testing of the force ― and ideally, period re-testing to ensure no new exposures.

“Part of this is learning about who has the virus so that we can, obviously protect the force, and part of it is taking efforts to conduct science and learn more about the virus itself,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told Military Times on Friday.

While the Defense Health Agency will take the lead on tracking those asymptomatic cases, Hoffman could not say whether DoD will release those numbers with any regularity, as they have with overall case totals.

“I haven’t seen any conversation about that, but on the flip side, I haven’t seen any conversation about not releasing that,” he said.

The expectation is, however, that those numbers will be shared with civilian agencies, to help them better track infection rates at the community, state and federal levels.

“The same kind of transparency we’re expecting from other countries, we’re taking the lead on that, and so I expect we’ll continue to do so,” he said.

As TR’s testing wrapped up pierside in Guam, another outbreak popped up aboard the destroyer Kidd, which has been on a counter-drug deployment in U.S. Southern Command.

Of 18 sailors who have tested positive, one has been medevaced to San Antonio, Texas, for medical care, and plans are underway to return the ship to a port, according to a Friday release from the Navy, though a location hasn’t been released.

The Army has seen the second highest numbers of COVID-19 infections, as well as the second-largest increase over the week. Its 971 cases as of Friday morning represents a 34-percent jump over the week, with 245 new cases.

That number is expected to continue to rise, as many soldiers fall into the first, second and third tiers of the testing plan, from counter-terror special operations units to deployed and forward-deployed troops around the world.

The Air Force, comparatively, added 15 over the week, bringing its total to 343. Many of its nuclear weapons units, however, are considered tier one, and will be getting 100-percent tested in the coming weeks.

The Air Force also continues to have the lowest infection rate among the services, about 0.1 percent, versus the Navy’s 0.4 percent.

The Marine Corps has 282 cases as of Friday morning, adding 46 in the past week, for a 27-percent increase.

And the National Guard, made up of airmen and soldiers, saw a 22-percent rise this week, to a total of 740 cases.

Of those service members, 97 have been hospitalized, 1,239 have recovered and two have died.

Civilians, contractors, dependents

Throughout the DoD, the COVID-19 numbers hit 6,213 on Friday, 37 percent of which are other than service members.

To date, 1,057 civilians have been diagnosed, a rise of 86 ― or 9 percent ― in the past day, as well as 229 this week ― 26 percent. Of those, 90 have been hospitalized, 314 have recovered and 12 have died.

For contractors, whose eight deaths represent a 2-percent mortality rate ― the highest of the four groups DoD tracks ― with no new cases in the past day, but 72 over the week, for a 21-percent rise.

Dependents now account for 814 of DoD’s 6,213 cases overall, with 32 cases in the past day and 139 this week, a rise of 4 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

Overall, DoD’s death rate is 0.4 percent, with 26 total, compared to the U.S. rate of almost 6 percent.

Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.

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