Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

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...

Services Will Make Call on Religious Exemptions to COVID-19 Vaccines

Article
8/13/2021
Two medical people prepare syringes with doses of the COVID-19 vaccine

"There is a religious exemption possibility for any mandatory vaccine, and there's a process that we go through to counsel the individual both from a medical and from a command perspective about using a religious exemption," Kirby said.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Austin Seeks Presidential Approval for Mandatory Troop Vaccinations by Mid-September

Article
8/10/2021
Sailors receive COVID-19 vaccinations

The COVID-19 vaccine will be mandatory for service members by mid-September, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said in a message to the force released yesterday.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Top Military Medical Doctor Predicts Coronavirus Longevity

Article
8/9/2021
Army Lt. Gen. Ronald J. Place, director of Defense Health Agency, delivers remarks at a media briefing on COVID-19 at the Pentagon, April 21, 2021

I believe we will get to a place where we're not talking about COVID all the time

Recommended Content:

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

Senior Medical Leaders Discuss COVID-19 Response

Article
8/6/2021
Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald J. Place, director of the Defense Health Agency making remarks

The keys to tackling the emerging COVID-19 pandemic were to quickly develop a comprehensive understanding of the virus, and then put a plan in place to fight it, says DHA Director.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

Debunking Anti-Vaccine Myths with Scientific Facts

Article
8/5/2021
A soldier gets a shot in the arm.

Get the facts: Myths on why not to get COVID-19 vaccination debunked by science

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Line Leader Presentation (PDF)

Publication
8/4/2021

This document is identical to the PowerPoint presentation for line leader reference and use.

Recommended Content:

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

Line Leader Presentation (Powerpoint)

Publication
8/4/2021

Leaders across the Department can leverage this briefing deck to discuss COVID-19 vaccines with their troops. Don't forget to reference speaker notes and to personalize the title slide!

Recommended Content:

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

Mask Guidance for Department of Defense Facilities

Infographic
7/30/2021
In accordance with CDC guidance, the Department of Defense (DOD) requires all Service members, Federal employees, onsite contractor employees, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask in all indoor DOD facilities.   If you are not vaccinated, continue to physically distance consistent with applicable CDC and DOD Force Health Protection Guidance.

In accordance with CDC guidance, the Department of Defense (DOD) requires all Service members, Federal employees, onsite contractor employees, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask in all indoor DOD facilities. If you are not vaccinated, continue to physically distance consistent with applicable CDC and DOD Force Health Protection Guidance.

Recommended Content:

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

COVID-19 Vaccines: Benefits Still Outweigh the Risks

Article
7/30/2021
Military personnel getting vaccinated

Breakthrough COVID-19 Infections are extremely rare, DHA’s Place says

Recommended Content:

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

DOD Directs Employees to Start Wearing Face Masks Again

Article
7/29/2021
Military personnel wearing a face masks

Following guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the DOD has directed employees working in areas at high risk for transmission to begin using face masks again

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Delta Variant

Got Your 6

Video
7/27/2021
Got Your 6

‘Got Your 6’ is TRICARE’s COVID vaccine video series that delivers important information and updates, three times a month. It includes the latest information about DoD vaccine distribution, the TRICARE health benefit, and vaccine availability. Got a question about ‘Got Your 6’? Send an email to dha.ncr.comm.mbx.dha-internal-communications@mail.mil Find your local military provider at tricare.mil/MTF, or go to tricare.mil/vaccineappointments and schedule yours today!

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

It’s Not Over Yet: Some COVID Safety Precautions Remain Necessary

Article
7/22/2021
a crowd of people

Returning to society when fully vaccinated is great but keep that mask handy

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

How COVID-19 fast-tracked innovation in the Military Health System

Article
7/20/2021
Military personnel receiving the COVID-19 test

As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted every aspect of healthcare delivery, the Military Health System responded with new and innovative ways to fight the disease and deliver safe, quality care to patients.

Recommended Content:

Health Innovation Month | Innovation | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

Got Your 6

Video
7/16/2021
Got your 6

‘Got Your 6’ is TRICARE’s COVID vaccine video series that delivers important information and updates, three times a month. It includes the latest information about DoD vaccine distribution, the TRICARE health benefit, and vaccine availability. Got a question about ‘Got Your 6’? Send an email to dha.ncr.comm.mbx.dha-internal-communications@mail.mil. Find your local military provider at tricare.mil/MTF, or go to tricare.mil/vaccineappointments and schedule yours today!

Recommended Content:

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

COVID vaccinations rise -- but so do concerns of the Delta variant

Article
7/1/2021
Military personnel wearing a face mask preparing a COVID-19 vaccine

MHS expected to reach 70% COVID-10 vaccination rate in July.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 16 - 30 Page 2 of 34

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.