The US military reported a record high number of coronavirus cases on Tuesday with 1,314 new cases, according to Defense Department statistics.
There are currently about 25,000 active Covid-19 cases in the ranks, and another 44,390 service members have recovered from the virus, according to the Pentagon. The number of military cases has grown over the last few weeks as case counts have increased in the general population.
A US defense official told CNN that the US military has a positivity rate of 6.8%. That compares to about 10% among civilians taking coronavirus tests. The military has claimed since the beginning of the pandemic that it can maintain a lower positivity rate because the military has a younger, healthier population. It also can also more easily mandate restrictions than civilian authorities.
This comes as several military bases across the country have had to once again tighten health measures to protect the force and military families. Since last week, 10 Air Force installations instituted stronger measures at Health Protection Condition Level Charlie just one step below the most stringent level.
While commanders can make detailed decisions about their bases, under the Charlie measures, schools, daycare and community activities may be canceled. It also introduces travel restrictions and more personnel may be ordered to work from home. Additionally family activities may be restricted to homes for a prolonged period of time.
The impact is being felt at installations across the country and around the world.
One of the installations impacted is Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, which houses what the Air Force calls “the largest and most demanding advanced air combat training mission in the world.”
In the Navy, 37 installations worldwide are now at the higher level of health protection. They include some of the Navy’s largest bases, including those in Norfolk, Virginia; San Diego, California; and the Joint Base with the Air Force at Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Three facilities in Europe are also included.
The Army now says since the beginning of the month, 59 installations are at the higher protection level with Fort Gordon, Georgia, just added to the list on Wednesday. At Fort Bliss, Texas, in the hard hit area of El Paso, stringent new measures are now in place for troops and families including maintaining 10 feet of distance while exercising or running and a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
The Marine Corps says it does not currently have any bases at the higher protection level.