NORTHCOM Preparing for the “Worst Case Scenario” with Coronavirus

U.S. Northern Command remains focused on mitigating a further outbreak of the new coronavirus, as it helps the Department of Health and Human Services quarantine and treat those who could have been exposed to the virus.

NORTHCOM has virtual meetings every day with combatant commands around the world “to ensure we are able to respond,” USAF Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Feb. 13.

So far, the command has helped HHS quarantine more than 600 individuals at military facilities across the country, and there are 11 facilities near major airports on standby for additional support if needed, O’Shaughnessy said.

NORTHCOM is “centrally managing” the planning for the new coronavirus, looking at the possible, yet unlikely, “worst case scenario” to ensure it is not “caught by surprise,” he said. 

The outbreak of the new virus is mostly centered in China, with the World Health Organization saying Feb. 13 there are now more than 46,000 cases there. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there are now 15 cases in the U.S.

Military commands throughout the Pacific are reminding service members to take precautions and closely watch their health. U.S. Forces-Korea earlier this month announced a self-quarantine effort for personnel who had recently traveled to mainland China. 

“The care and well-being of our service members, families, and civilians is a top priority of mine,” U.S. Forces-Korea boss Gen. Robert Abrams said in a statement. “Our Army, Air Force, and Navy components are doing a great job of providing the best care possible for those who are in the self-quarantine program.”