More than 5,500 service members have tested postive for coronavirus since late February, according to the latest numbers from the Defense Department, but troops are starting to recover at a higher rate than new cases are being diagnosed.

That meant 355 new cases since May 8, compared to 572 recoveries, the data shows. The previous week saw 467 positives, versus 519 recoveries.

The services are working with a plan that pro-actively tests asymptomatic members of some key units, including those with nuclear deterrent missions, as well as those preparing for deployment or redeployment.

There are also plans to do some random testing or units, dubbed “sentinel testing,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters May 5, to keep tabs on asymptomatic community spread.

“But testing the entire force … is probably not a complete requirement," Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Military Times May 5.

With 5,526 military cases overall so far, the services’ infection rate stands at more than 0.2 percent, while the nationwide rate has climbed to over 0.4 percent.

The Navy is still the hardest hit, with 2,205 cases, or 40 percent of diagnoses among troops. The Army now stands at 1,172 cases, followed by the Marine Corps at 481 and the Air Force at 442. The National Guard is now reporting 1,108 airmen and soldiers diagnosed, many of whom have been mobilized in local pandemic relief efforts.

The military’s total numbers rose 7 percent this week, including 120 hospitalizations, 2,550 recoveries and two deaths overall.

While the death rate among troops, less than 0.0004 percent, is statistically insignificant, the overall DoD rate is 0.3 percent, while the rate among U.S. residents is now 6 percent. The DoD number has been steadily dropping, as the most recent DoD-affiliated death occured on April 27.

With civilians, dependents and contractors factored in, DoD has had 8,374 cases total. That number rose 7 percent this week, or 548 new cases.

Of those, 64 were in civilians, for an increase of 5 percent. In total, there have been 1,341 cases, 97 hospitalizations 664 recoveries and 14 deaths.

Among dependents, cases rose by 7 percent, or 64 positive tests. Of 994 overall cases, 27 have been hospitalized, 507 have recovered and four have died.

And for contractors, who have had 513 cases so far, the numbers went up by 61 this week, or 13, by far the highest increase of the groups DoD tracks. That brings the total cases to 513, with 31 hospitalizations, 229 recoveries and seven deaths.

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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