New military deaths from COVID-19 decline slightly as cases decline nationwide

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According to the latest Pentagon data, three servicemen died of complications from COVID-19 between October 13 and 20, bringing the death toll for the month of October to date.

The deaths reflect a continuing trend among the troops that began in late July and has since more than doubled the death toll from COVID-19. The latest update, however, shows fewer deaths than in any week since August, as well as a decrease in new cases for the second week in a row.

The services reported a total of 248,865 cases, with 1,282 new reports between October 13 and 20. The previous week saw 863, a significant drop from previous weeks, where new cases topped 4,000 per week in August and began to slowly decline later. in September.

The trend reflects the evolution of the pandemic nationwide, as an unprecedented spike in cases in late summer began to ease. It also corresponds to an increase in the number of service members being vaccinated.

“None of the soldiers who died from COVID-19 have been fully vaccinated,” Major Charlie Dietz confirmed to the Military Times on Wednesday, although one of them received the first of a two-dose regimen. “With the increase in vaccination rates throughout the force, we hope that these tragedies will come to an end soon.”

The latest reported deaths include:

  • CPS. Theodore Friedman, 27, died on October 9. He was assigned to the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado.
  • Senior Chief Fencing Officer Michael Haberstumpf, 42, died on October 10. He was assigned to the Joint Special Operations Intelligence Brigade, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
  • An army major, 41, died on October 11. He was posted to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency in Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

The most recent count is unusual in that it only includes troops on active duty. Throughout the pandemic, members of the Reserve and National Guard have succumbed disproportionately to COVID-19. In late summer and early fall, Army Reserve and Guardsmen accounted for about half of the deaths.

Departments all have set dates for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations, most of which arrive by the end of the year. The active-duty Air Force Nov. 2 deadline means any airman who intends to comply must have received the final dose of a vaccine by Tuesday. Reservists have another 30 days to comply.

Navy and Marine Corps personnel have until Nov. 28 for active duty and Dec. 28 for Reservists. The Navy announced Monday that it would create a specific council to manage the separations of sailors who refuse vaccination.

The military has the longest delay, giving active duty soldiers until December 15 to be fully immunized, and their reservists until June 30.

Of the 39 deaths reported since August, 19 or 49% – were among Army Reserve and Army National Guard soldiers, though they make up around 20% of the entire military. Since the start of the pandemic, they have accounted for 26 of the total 70 deaths, or 37%.

As of Wednesday, 76 percent of the total 315,000 force – is at least partially vaccinated. That’s a 16% increase since October 8, with 62% – 1.4 million soldiers fully immunized.

Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at the Military Times. It covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other matters affecting the military. Follow on Twitter @Meghann_MT


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