Two National Guardsmen are the 18th and 19th members of the military to die of COVID-19 complications, spokespeople confirmed to Military Times on Thursday.
California Army National Guardsman Sgt. Goran Dimovski, 40, died Jan. 31, spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Shiroma told Military Times. Alabama Air National Guardsman Master Sgt. Darryl Lovell, 58, died Jan. 28, spokeswoman Maj. Jacqueline Witt said.
“Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the family,” she added.
Dimovski was assigned to the 640th Aviation Support Battalion, 40th Combat Aviation Brigade, Lovell had been a material management craftsman with the 117th Logistics Readiness Squadron.
Five service member deaths make January the military’s deadliest so far during the pandemic. Since the April death of a New Jersey Army National Guardsman, most months have seen one or two deaths, though November saw four.
While the 2.3 million members of the active-duty and reserve military forces are split roughly 50/50 in terms of personnel, military reservists have made up the vast majority of service member COVID-19 deaths. Out of 19 deaths total, 16 have been members of the Reserve or National Guard.
While members of the active-duty force have been subject to mask and physical distancing mandates while working, as well as regular testing for those deploying or in certain key units, members of the reserve component spend drastically less time with their units and therefore are not subject to the same routine mitigation measures.
As of Wednesday, 143,272 service members have been diagnosed with COVID-19, just over 6 percent of the total force. That’s compared with 8 percent of U.S. residents nationwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The death rate for service members remains negligible, at 0.0001 of known cases, versus just under 2 percent nationwide.
The Defense Department began shipping out COVID-19 vaccines in mid-December, prioritizing clinic and hospital staff as well as first responders, then deploying troops.
Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DoD has distributed 872,325 doses of vaccine, 508,965 of which have been administered. Of those 75,347 personnel have been fully vaccinated, though the Pentagon has declined to share how many troops, dependents, civilians or contractors are among them.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.