The Defense Department has devised a new, tiered plan to test, isolate and screen military personnel for the coronavirus while the force awaits more widespread testing, which is likely still months away, defense officials said Wednesday.
Active-duty personnel are now split into four tiers, with the first considered critical to the nation’s defense, such as fielding and operating nuclear weapons, said Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Tier two is “engaged fielded forces around the world,” while forward-deployed and redeploying forces comprise tier three. Tier four covers the rest of the 1.4 million active-duty servicemembers.
The Defense Department currently has the testing capacity — about 50,000 a week — to handle all of tier one by the end of this month, Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist said.
Under the new plan, the crew of a ship or submarine, for instance, would be screened with questionnaires and thermometers well ahead of their scheduled deployment. Those sailors would be quarantined for up to 21 days and then tested, which would help identify people who are infected but do not show any symptoms.
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