Armed Forces News

Cherry Point, NC - March 2020: Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class James Mckenzie takes the temperature of a comrade with the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. An updated plan calls for random service-wide testing of 10 percent of the active-duty clinical health care personnel and uniformed personnel living in congregate settings.

Health-care providers will begin selecting and testing individual service members who do not show overt symptoms of Covid-19, Matthew P. Donovan, the undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, outlined the plan in a recent memo to Pentagon leadership. The military policy essentially would follow standards set forth by the Food and Drug Administration. Testing will continue, as well, for persons who have symptoms of respiratory illness.

“The … surveillance and screening strategy is designed to break the chain of disease transmission and reduce risk to the force and DoD missions,” Donovan said in the memo.


Each service component is to develop and practice appropriate restriction-of-movement procedures. Testing of asymptomatic service members would take place before any deployment or training mission. Service members who are tested are to be given the results of their tests.

Each service’s medical teams will be responsible for testing of asymptomatic service members – called sentinel surveillance. The plan calls for randomized testing of 10 percent of the active-duty clinical health care personnel and the general uniformed populace living in congregate settings.

As the ability to test more people ramps upward, one percent of all non-symptomatic uniformed personnel would be tested within their unit or at their installation every 14 days. If need be, the number of persons being tested could increase.

Service members who test positive for COVID-19 would be quarantined, and contact-tracing measures would seek to identify anyone with whom they may have come in contact.

The action also called upon DoD civilian personnel and contractors who are not operating with forward-deployed forces to follow appropriate restriction-of-movement procedures. Likewise, the services would provide additional guidance to National Guard and reserve forces when appropriate.

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