A New York Air National Guardsman and an Ohio-based Navy reservist are among the most recent service members who died of COVID-19 complications in recent days.
The airman won’t be identified, per the wishes of the family, New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs spokesman Eric Durr told Military Times on Thursday.
The sailor, Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Abdigafar Warsame, 52, passed away at a civilian hospital near his Columbus home, according to a Navy reserve spokesman.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and coworkers of the sailor during this extremely difficult time,” Cmdr. Ben Tisdale told Military Times. “We ask all sailors to continue to practice COVID-19 mitigation protocols, and report any symptoms immediately to their chain of command and local medical providers.”
Their deaths are no. 16 and 17 among service members who have died after contracting the novel coronavirus, according to the Defense Department’s most recent Wednesday update.
Another airman, who had been assigned to Aviano Air Base, Italy, died Jan. 12, but an autopsy had not yet determined whether his diagnosed COVID-19 caused his death.
With three deaths this month, January has been the second-deadliest month of the pandemic for troops so far, after four died in November.
More than 130,000 service members have contracted COVID-19 since February, just under 6 percent of the active-duty and reserve force, compared to nearly 8 percent of the general U.S. population.
In recent months, service member cases have been on par with the U.S. at large, but the most recent numbers show some of the surging in cases across the country has missed the military.
Deaths and hospitalizations among service members also remain low. According to the latest numbers, 0.0001 percent of troops who have contracted COVID-19 have died, compared to just under 2 percent of known cases nationwide.
DoD began vaccinating its civilians and service members in mid-December, starting with clinic staff and healthcare workers, as well as essential personnel like police officers and firefighters, then moving on to counter-terror and nuclear deterrence units, followed by deploying troops.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DoD has administered more than 474,000 vaccines so far, but the Pentagon has declined to break that data out by civilian or uniformed recipients.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.