Washington, DC – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14), Chair of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, was joined by 23 Members in sending a letter today to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield requesting that the CDC assist the Department of Defense (DOD) in developing appropriate protocols for combating COVID-19 in the military, which is critical to maintaining troop readiness and morale.
Rep. Speier’s letter states that “(t)he nature of military operations makes it difficult, sometimes impossible, for servicemembers to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s standard guidelines for preventing and combating the spread of COVID-19. Just as the CDC has prepared guidance for the general public as well as guidance for health care providers that is tailored to their work requirements, we believe that the U.S military also needs guidelines that are customized to the unique operational requirements of the services.”
The outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, where over 800 Sailors have tested positive and one has died, has drawn the country’s attention to the unique challenges raised by COVID-19 within the military. Crew members of at least 26 other Navy ships have tested positive and testing throughout the military continues to lag. The letter states, “Aboard a deployed U.S. Navy ship, hundreds to thousands of Sailors live and work in the smallest of spaces. Maintaining social distancing is not possible, and space for isolation is extremely limited. Unfortunately, these types of challenges are not limited to the Navy. Many other activities across all military services, such as basic training and operational exercises to maintain readiness, also require close contact and pose risk to servicemembers and their families.”
The letter asks the CDC to develop tailored guidelines to aid the military’s efforts to combat COVID-19 and asks that those guidelines “specifically address the work and living environment of servicemembers, including on military bases, in the field, and aboard ships at sea.” The members maintain that the “CDC’s authoritative analysis of effective guidelines would assist in keeping our military operational and in protecting the health and safety of servicemembers in a very uncertain and dangerous time.”
A copy of the letter is attached to this press release.
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