USAF Sees Spike in COVID-19 Cases as Bases Increase Restrictions

The total number of COVID-19 cases increased by more than 1,000 across the Department of the Air Force for the second week in a row, as bases across the military continue to increase health protection conditions amid the pandemic.

On July 27, the Air Force reported 6,169 total cases, including 3,964 uniformed military members, 885 civilians, 981 dependents, and 339 contractors. This is up from 5,087 reported July 20, which included 3,263 service members.

Hospitalizations dropped by four to 60, and there have been eight total deaths from the disease, none of which were service members.

There are 36,659 cumulative Defense Department cases as of July 27, and bases are responding by increasing restrictions. The Associated Press reported that as of July 24 more than 45 percent of total service installations around the world are at “Health Protection Condition Charlie,” the second-highest level, which indicates substantial risk of sustained community transmission.

Fourteen Air Force installations that had reduced their restrictions in the spring have once again raised protection conditions as the new coronavirus spreads, according to the AP. This is the highest of all services.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, speaking July 22 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., said each base has done “things a little bit different, and they’ve adapted very carefully.”

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman, briefing reporters on July 21, said schools on bases will limit their in-person classes based on the health protection conditions that are in place this fall. If a base is in HPCON C or D, schools will conduct virtual learning, but if a base is in HPCON A or B, schools will have in-person classes with social distancing, Hoffman said.