The military faces restrictions in responding to the virus outbreak

A look at the role of the military in the crisis:


At the request of the Ministry of Health and Human Services, the Pentagon provided accommodation to four passengers on the Grand Princess cruise ship, which was hit by a group of coronavirus cases, on four military bases. It has also provided housing at other bases for people who need to enter and be monitored at certain civilian airports in the United States.

In these bases, people who receive accommodation are cared for by civilian agencies and not by the military.

Army scientists also research and test coronavirus vaccines in coordination with civil authorities.

The National Guard, which has been drafted by governors in several states to provide a range of support, has played the largest role for the military to date. So far, more than 1,600 members of the National Guard have been called up. Some help in state emergency response centers; others offer transportation for civilian health care providers; and some collect and deliver test samples.

President Donald Trump has not federalized the National Guard as after the September 11 attacks.

The U.S. North Command, which is responsible for the defense of the U.S. homeland, said in a statement Monday that any support from the Department of Defense to the coronavirus crisis would be ‚Äúsubordinate to our primary mission to defend the United States. A number of planning efforts include scenarios, including helping establish medical treatment centers, providing shelter for displaced people, assisting in food transportation, and numerous other logistical efforts. “


There are many ways the military could help in the COVID 19 crisis, but few decisions have been made. Air Force Brigadier General Paul Friedrichs, chief medical officer of the joint chiefs of staff, told reporters Monday that defense officials are trying to “identify what is possible,” while compromising on being.

For example, Friedrichs said that if a large number of members of the National Guard were mobilized for medical assistance, they would be fired from their civilian jobs, which in some health care cases are already fighting COVID-19.

The military could use mobile hospitals, but they are generally designed to treat victims and not infectious diseases.

The military also operates 36 permanent hospitals in the United States. They could be used for the COVID-19 emergency, but are relatively small in most cases. They exist to support active military personnel, their families and some military pensioners.

Some have questioned why the military cannot contribute to the civilian fan pool, which may become scarce in the coming weeks. Pentagon chief spokesman Jonathan Hoffman declined to say how many fans the Pentagon had in stock. When asked why, he replied, “Because the number deals with our deployable medical ability, a number that we don’t want to reveal.”

The Pentagon also has two hospital ships, the USNS Comfort and the USNS Mercy. They can be equipped for operations and other medical services, but the medical professionals assigned to ship personnel are currently performing these duties in domestic military hospitals and clinics or in private medical facilities.


The Department of Defense has a detailed pandemic response plan detailing the myriad of military actions that can be taken, including the role of last resort in quarantine and border restrictions.

The military could be asked to help set up “mass accident” treatment centers, provide protection to displaced people, and provide postal, electricity, water, and sanitation services, grocery deliveries, and funeral services. Troops could also provide logistics, communications and other support to law enforcement and the National Guard. The military’s plan, which has been drafted and revised several times in recent years, is closely monitored and officials refuse to publicly discuss details.

However, officials say there is a widespread belief that local law enforcement agencies, border control officers, and the National Guard, under the command of governors, are the first line of defense to stem the spread of viruses through travel restrictions along and along state borders or outbreak areas.

The plan assumes that the Intelligence Supervision Act and the Posse Comitatus Act will remain in effect. Under this civil war law, federal troops are prohibited from carrying out domestic law enforcement activities such as arrests, property confiscation, or searches. In extreme cases, however, the president can also rely on the uprising law from the time of the civil war, which allows the use of troops of the active service or the National Guard for law enforcement purposes.

According to the military pandemic plan, the main goal is to defend the country, maintain the armed forces and provide the support needed to protect national infrastructure and ensure that the government continues to function.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, this can lead to more serious illnesses, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people are recovering from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illnesses recover in about two weeks, while people with more severe illnesses take three to six weeks to recover.

The Associated Press receives support for health and science reporting from the Department of Science Education of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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