Back to Top Skip to main content

DoD leadership updates Pentagon on COVID-19 testing capabilities

Image of Air Force Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Lee Payne speaking, with Pentagon sign behind him Air Force Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Lee Payne, the Defense Health Agency assistant director for Combat Support, joined other Department of Defense leaders to update media about DoD’s COVID-19 testing capabilities during a media presser at the Pentagon July 30. (DoD Photo by Marvin Lynchard)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Testing serves as a vital step in managing COVID-19-related risks to the military and the nation. Air Force Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Lee Payne, the Defense Health Agency’s assistant director for Combat Support, joined other Department of Defense leaders to update media about DoD’s testing capabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The officials briefed the media at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, July 30.

The Department of Defense created the COVID-19 Lab Testing Task Force in April 2020 to address screening, surveillance, and diagnostic testing of DoD personnel. DoD selected Payne to lead this effort. The collaborative Testing Task Force has made strides in testing efforts, certifying over 125 DoD labs around the globe that are capable of conducting more than 200,000 COVID-19 tests per week. DoD successfully conducted over 540,000 COVID-19 tests since January, currently completing 50,000 to 60,000 tests a week.

“This has been a coordinated achievement, together with the Joint Staff, the military departments, and the combatant commands,” Payne said. “We’ve all come together to solve this complex problem set.”

Weekly testing for active-duty service members also increased fivefold in the past three months. Air Force Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Paul Friedrichs, Joint Staff surgeon, said confirmed cases in the military are still slightly below the U.S. average for most age groups. One exception is for the 18-24 age range. Friedrichs explained that this number results from increased testing of military recruits before and after basic training. Friedrichs praised the Testing Task Force and local commands for making these tests possible.

"We think that this is a reflection of our commitment to the [Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper's] first priority of reducing risk to the force and protecting them as they go through performing their duties to protect and defend our nation," Friedrichs said.

A part of keeping the force and civilians safe includes recognizing service members and patients who may be asymptomatic to COVID-19, but still have the antibodies. Patients who are pursuing elective surgery and active-duty service members are also screened for the disease. Some patients also volunteer to come to military medical treatment facilities to be screened for symptoms.

“The good thing about asymptomatic screening is that we are, in essence, screening the population, so we are finding people who don’t know that they have the disease. We’re isolating them. We’re doing contact tracing on those folks,” Payne said. “We’re doing that screening for mission readiness, but it also has the added benefit of reducing disease in the population.”

DoD continues to reduce risk by searching for new approaches to meet diagnostic testing demands. Payne shared goals to expand the number of available tests, innovate new technologies, and improve access to these testing mechanisms. New approaches include pooled testing and new technologies like point-of-care antigen tests and oral swab testing.

Payne noted that testing is only one part of the DoD’s risk reduction strategy. Public health measures like social distancing, restriction of movement for active-duty service members, and use of facial cloth coverings in public also play a role in managing risk.

“We are confident that the consistent use of broad spectrum risk reduction measures across the force are making and will continue to make a difference in controlling the spread of the virus,” Payne said.

Friedrichs agreed, stating that “both the individual and the collective commitment to those basic public health measures … while not necessarily high-tech, are incredibly effective. We are grateful for the support from everyone who’s embraced them in order to reduce risk to the force and to the mission.”

Payne acknowledged that the fight against COVID-19 is still not over. Public health guidance is updated regularly to reflect new information about the novel coronavirus. DoD continues to expand testing capabilities, with the MHS contributing through research, development, and medical care for service members and their families.

“We continue to learn new things about this disease each and every day,” Payne said, “but we are agile, and we adapt our strategy to protect our people. I am confident that we are doing everything we can … to enable commanders to keep their forces mission-ready, and to keep the DoD family safe and healthy.”

You also may be interested in...

DHA director visits San Antonio military units, JBSA vaccination sites

Article
1/26/2021
Three military personnel, wearing masks, talking with each other in a hospital hallway

Army Lt. Gen Ronald Place, DHA director, recently visited JBSA vaccination sites and several other military locations in the greater San Antonio region.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

DOD vaccinating personnel worldwide against COVID-19

Article
1/26/2021
Two soldiers, wearing masks: one is getting a vaccine in his left arm

One-month update of COVID-19 distribution and administration efforts to DOD personnel.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

MHS Transformation results continue during COVID-19

Article
1/21/2021
Military personnel in a supply room, reaching for the top shelf

The MTF transition has enabled the DHA and the Services to increase standardization, eliminate duplicative contracts, and realize cost efficiencies by beginning the management of an enterprise-wide program.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | MHS Transformation

DOD recommends adults 75 and older should seek COVID-19 vaccine

Article
1/19/2021
Nursing home members, wearing masks, wait in a line to get their COVID vaccine

This age recommendation differs slightly from that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends vaccinations for those 65 and older.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Is It Your Time to Get the Vaccine? | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine for Adults Age 75 and Older

LTG Place Vaccine Roll-Out Video

Video
1/18/2021
DHA Seal

DHA Director LTG Ron Place talks about coronavirus vaccines, their safety and efficacy, and encourages everyone to do their own research to get vaccinated.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Partnerships, COVID-19 are catalysts for enterprise virtual health

Article
1/14/2021
Image of Mr. Adler with text: "Partnerships, COVID-19 are catalysts for enterprise virtual health."

Jamie Adler, the lead for the DHA’s Virtual Health Clinical Integration Office, discusses the future of virtual health (VH).

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Connected Health

COVID-19 hinders blood donations during National Blood Donor Month

Article
1/14/2021
Navy Capt. R. Wade Blizzard, commanding officer of U.S. Navy Support Facility Diego Garcia, donates blood for the Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Units Diego Garcia walking blood bank on Dec. 17, 2020. The walking blood bank is a list of eligible donors who can provide blood in case of emergency. (U.S. Navy photo by Navy Seaman Apprentice Stevin Atkins)

Life-saving blood is in high-demand by the Armed Services Blood Program, as the COVID-19 has negatively impacted donations.

Recommended Content:

Armed Services Blood Program | Public Health | Coronavirus | Holiday Observances

COVID presents new set of challenges for DOD environmental health

Article
1/12/2021
Group of Marines, snowshoeing through the snow

One of the most important factors to take into account when maintaining one’s overall fitness is physical environment.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness in a Pandemic | Reintroducing Total Force Fitness | January Toolkit | Coronavirus | Total Force Fitness

DOD Launches “My MilLife Guide” Text Message Program to Boost Wellness

Article
1/11/2021
The new My MilLife Guide program supports the wellness of the military community.

DoD has launched My MilLife Guide, a new program that sends text messages designed to help the military community boost overall wellness while navigating stresses related to COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Public Health | Total Force Fitness | Health Readiness

Navy corpsman provides multitude of support to hospital

Article
1/8/2021
Two military personnel, wearing masks, in a supply room looking at the shelves

“Thinking outside the box is what makes a great person, let alone a Sailor," Tie said.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus

MTF facilities, markets set to resume transition heading into 2021

Article
1/6/2021
A military nurse, wearing a mask, prepares a needle for a vaccination

Butler says transition on track.

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation | Coronavirus

BACH healthcare workers and first responders vaccinated for COVID-19

Article
1/6/2021
Soldier gives a nurse a vaccine in her left arm

BACH now joins other Defense Health Agency military treatment facilities that have received the vaccine, marking the start of a phased-in vaccination program to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Toolkit

MHS operational innovations continue in battle against COVID-19

Article
1/5/2021
Two medical personnel, wearing full PPE, in an operating room

MHS innovations in 2020 include a new registry for real-time COVID-19 data and a system to free up hospital beds and protect patients from the disease.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Research and Innovation | Innovation | Technology

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Publication
1/5/2021

This toolkit provides communicators across the Military Health System (MHS) with important information about the COVID-19 prevention and vaccination from the CDC to share with patients and health care professionals.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Information for Military Treatment Facility Directors | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Toolkit | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

COVID-19 Social Media Toolkit

Publication
1/5/2021

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

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 24

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.