Back to Top Skip to main content

DHA leaders bring expertise to DoD COVID-19 Lab Testing Task Force

Image of Gen. Payne speaking with a soldier Air Force Maj. Gen. Lee Payne, Defense Health Agency's (DHA) assistant director for Combat Support and Military Health System, talks with Marine Corps Capt. Martin Harris at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego Oct. 2, 2019. Payne is among the Defense Health Agency leaders appointed to run the effort due to their expertise in areas like combat support, public health, and research and development. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jake Greenberg)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

The COVID-19 pandemic brought many changes to the Department of Defense. New safety procedures changed how offices and military treatment facilities complete their day-to-day activities. Multiple government laboratories are working together to find a vaccine. But, until a vaccine is found and treatments for COVID-19 are developed, operations within DoD continue to be affected.

Testing has emerged as a vital step in managing COVID-related risks to normal operations. DoD recently created the COVID-19 Lab Testing Task Force to address screening, surveillance, and diagnostic testing of DoD personnel. The undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness appointed Defense Health Agency leaders to run the effort due to their expertise in areas like combat support, public health, and research and development. The new roles enhance the Military Health System and the DoD’s contributions to the COVID-19 response.

Air Force Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Lee Payne, DHA’s assistant director for Combat Support, was selected as DoD’s COVID-19 Lab Testing Task Force lead. Payne works to standardize testing protocols and identify logistics requirements for testing. This role includes prioritizing where testing supplies, equipment, and staff are assigned as the COVID-19 response continues. He also coordinates with other government entities like the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in support of the interagency response. 

Image of Gen. Payne talking to Capt. Martin Harris
Sharing insight and information... Maj. Gen. Lee E. Payne, assistant director for Combat Support Agency, Defense Health Agency converses with Mr. Ronald Krogh, chief of staff, Regional Health Command - Pacific during Payne's visit to Naval Hospital Bremerton Dec. 10, 2019. Payne is among the Defense Health Agency leaders appointed to run the effort due to their expertise in areas like combat support, public health, and research and development. (Official Navy photo by Douglas H Stutz, Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs)

“Operational testing is part of a risk reduction strategy and part of our public health approach,” Payne said on the importance of this task force. “What we will learn from that screening, along with new science and research, will be a big player in all of this, and we are continually learning about this virus to better protect the force.”

While testing does not eliminate risk, Payne’s team members leverage their different backgrounds to facilitate the means to reduce that risk across DoD. There are four lines of effort that fall under the task force: policy, operations, data, and future operations. Army Col. Mark Ireland supports Payne as the deputy lead of the testing task force and program manager for the policy line of effort. Ireland previously worked as chief of DHA’s Public Health division. The job provided Ireland with expertise in disease prevention and medical infrastructure. DHA’s chief of management science Richard Wolf also supports the task force as the program manager for data.

While Payne’s team provides logistical oversight, Dr. Sean Biggerstaff serves as the lead of all COVID-19 medical testing research. Biggerstaff functioned as DHA’s acting deputy assistant director for Research and Development, resulting in extensive knowledge of DoD’s researching capabilities.

“The DHA remains fully committed to supporting the Military Health System and the Department in the COVID-19 response, leveraging the full range of the DHA’s military medical leadership, expertise, and capabilities to deliver on the Secretary’s priorities to protect our people, maintain readiness, and support the national response. The DHA is bringing all it has to bear to contribute during this unprecedented time,” said Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald Place, DHA director.

The COVID-19 Lab Testing Task Force has already begun work to bring higher testing capabilities to the MHS. As of May 9, DoD has completed over 65,000 COVID-19 tests for active duty service members and other TRICARE beneficiaries. The task force hopes to raise that number to approximately 200,000 tests a month, prioritizing where those tests need to go with their new COVID-19 testing framework. The framework will use a tiered approach to prioritize testing, continuing focus on testing those who present with COVID-19 symptoms, starting with the organizations and units that need immediate attention. Those populations include operational forces preparing for deployment, new accessions, and individuals who come to military treatment facilities with COVID-19 symptoms.

“We’re working to increase the amount of testing we are capable of doing in the DoD, and carefully monitoring new tests are they are approved,” Payne said. “The combined efforts throughout the DoD will be the key to mitigating the risk to the force.”

You also may be interested in...

Navy pharmacy techs support COVID-19 and MHS GENESIS efforts

Article
10/20/2020
Navy personnel in a pharmacy

Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Aaron Souders is highlighted for his work as a Navy pharmacy technician.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | MHS GENESIS | Combat Support

Navy tele-health supports Guam civilian hospital during COVID-19

Article
10/19/2020
Woman sitting in front of several computer monitors

[T]his is the first-ever DoD tasking for telemedicine support in response to a request from civil authorities for aid.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Combat Support | Global Health Engagement

Navy unit provided COVID-19 support to Peruvian First Responders

Article
10/16/2020
Fireman getting COVID test in firehouse garage

The province of Callao has the second highest number of COVID-19 cases in Peru.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Global Health Engagement

COVID-19 Social Media Toolkit

Publication
10/16/2020

These messages are provided for you to use on your platforms with any of the images from the COVID-19 Toolkit.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

DHA Director outlines how MHS standardization bolsters reform

Article
10/15/2020
Two soldiers in masks, talking

How COVID-19 repositioned the best laid plans of the DoD.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Joint Health Information Exchange | MHS GENESIS | MHS Transformation

Annual flu vaccine remains a health priority during COVID-19 era

Article
10/13/2020
Military personnel getting flu shot

Annual vaccine is a covered TRICARE benefit.

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Public Health | Coronavirus

Pilot DoD/VA hearing program virtually trains technicians

Article
10/9/2020
Military personnel sitting in front of laptop

HCE virtually trains hearing technicians during COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Hearing Loss

MHS Minute: Heroes Behind the Mask

Video
10/8/2020
Image of MHS Minute Carousel

In the face of a global threat, healthcare heroes across the MHS have donned their mask, and served on the front line of the battle against COVID-19. Tune in to this month's "MHS Minute" to learn more!

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

‘I am Navy Medicine’ – helping another in need - Hospitalman Grace Pridmore of NMRTC Bremerton

Article
10/7/2020
Corpsman conviction of care, compassion and competence…Hospitalman Grace Pridmore, from Kellyville, Okla., assigned to Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command (NMRTC) Bremerton Detachment Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS), was acknowledged for her selfless effort by Capt. Shannon J. Johnson, NMRTC Bremerton commanding officer, for identifying another Sailor at risk and taking quick action to help get the Sailor to the appropriate level of care, very possibly saving a life (official Navy photo by Douglas H Stutz, NHB/NMRTC Bremerton public affairs officer).

It takes more than just awareness to respond to someone showing signs of distress.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Mental Health Care | Mental Wellness

DHA priorities focused on readiness, patients, outcomes

Article
10/7/2020
Defense Health Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place speaks at a podium.

Adaptation key to providing outstanding care to beneficiaries.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Combat Support | Access to Health Care | Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program

Maintaining positive social media interactions during COVID-19

Article
10/2/2020
Image of soldier looking at his cell phone

Experts discuss good, bad of social media during pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Defense Health Agency celebrates seven years of service

Article
10/1/2020
Lt. Gen. Ronald Place holding a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery

Seven ways DHA has improved military readiness over the years.

Recommended Content:

Defense Health Agency | Coronavirus | MHS Transformation | Technology | Global Health Engagement | TRICARE Health Program | Total Force Fitness

Easy steps to understanding & thwarting depression during COVID-19

Article
9/30/2020
Five people sitting on yoga mats outside in the grass

Learning self-care strategies can help you take charge of your life and improve your mental and physical health.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Mental Health Care | Depression

Beale AFB clinic launches new EHR -- MHS GENESIS

Article
9/29/2020
Photo of Travis Callihan

This new EHR will provide a better level of care for all Department of Defense beneficiaries.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | MHS GENESIS

Army SHARP/SAPR’s awareness creates a safe culture at JBLE

Article
9/25/2020
Image of teal ribbon against soldier's uniform

Remaining on guard against sexual harassment/assault despite pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Sexual Assault Prevention
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 18

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.