The Defense Department’s rate of new COVID-19 diagnoses shot up again this week, for the fifth week in a row, with 1,793 new cases ― a 16-percent increase, versus 9 percent the previous week.
That’s roughly twice as many new cases as DoD reported last week, according to the latest numbers compiled by the Joint Staff. All told, 11,439 DoD-affiliated personnel have been diagnosed, including 8,824 service members.
The spike comes as travel restrictions are lifting in between some military installations, local shelter-in-place orders lift and the military continues to do asymptomatic testing in a select group of key units, including all incoming recruits at initial entry training.
As of Friday, 46 U.S. states have the green-light for permanent change-of-station moves and other non-essential travel. Closed states include California, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota and North Carolina.
Spokespeople for the Defense Department and Joint Staff, where DoD’s thrice-weekly reports are compiled, did not respond to requests Friday for context on the jump in cases.
“We are preparing for a second wave and maybe more,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper told the Associated Press in early May. “We don’t know what the trajectory of this virus will be.”
Of the nearly 1,800 new cases this week, 1,149 were in service members, another doubling of the previous week’s increase, for a 15-percent rise overall.
The Army saw the most new cases this week, growing from 2,542 to 2,063, or 23 percent. But the Marine Corps saw the biggest percent increase, 24 percent, growing from 668 cases to 830. The Air Force saw a 20-percent increase, from 651 to 782, while the National Guard ticked up 14 percent, from 1481 to 1681.
And though the Navy still has the biggest proportion of the military cases, with 32, the service had by far the smallest increase in cases this week ― just 6 percent, from 2,678 to 2,850.
The military 8,824 cases bring the infection rate to 0.4 percent, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts the nationwide rate at just under 0.7 percent.
Of those, 230 have been hospitalized, 5,319 have recovered and three have died.
At the same time, DoD’s mortality rate as been decreasing, as an increase of cases has come without a new death since late May. With 36 total deaths, the department’s overall rate is 0.3 percent, versus 5 percent nationwide.
DoD-wide cases were up 16 percent this week, with the biggest jump among civilians ― 427 cases, a 25-percent increase, for 2,154 total. Of those 165 have been hospitalized, 1,072 have recovered and 19 have died.
The contractor community saw a slight uptick in the rate of new cases this week, with 122 new cases, or 16 percent. Of those 908 total cases, 70 have been hospitalized, 426 have recovered and nine have died.
Cases have stabilized for dependents in recent weeks, with an 8-percent increase this week, or 95 new cases, up from 7 percent the previous week. Of 1,346 cases total, 59 have been hospitalized, 788 have recovered and five have died.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.