'It's Unprecedented': COVID-19 Begins To Take A Toll On US Military

Reuters  YURI GRIPAS Defense Secretary Mark Esper welcomes Britain's Secretary of State of Defence Ben Wallace

Reuters YURI GRIPAS Defense Secretary Mark Esper welcomes Britain's Secretary of State of Defence Ben Wallace

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper ordered a 60-day freeze Wednesday on moves by US troops and civilian defense employees overseas in an effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

On Wednesday, the news site reported, a top U.S. military medical official said the Pentagon's modeling shows the pandemic is likely going to "continue to grow" in the next three weeks, the farthest out he said they were able to model.

"We have not received an RFA, a request for assistance, from HHS that I'm aware of", he said, referring to the Department of Health and Human Services. The patient was a department contractor based in Crystal City, Virginia.

In an interview with Reuters, Esper said the new measure would affect forces around the world, with the exception of the troop withdrawal already underway in Afghanistan.

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The United States has said it is committed to reducing the number of its troops in Afghanistan to 8,600 from 13,000 within 135 days of signing the deal with the Taliban last month.

The Pentagon reportedly believes pandemic will "continue to grow", despite a clamor from within the Trump admnistration to reopen businesses, relax some restrictions and jumpstart the sputtering economy by Easter.

The department reported its first case of coronavirus infection at the Pentagon on Tuesday.

Esper said the military was prepared to offer more resources if requested for NY state, the epicenter of the USA outbreak, which has infected more than 59,000 people across the country and killed 812.

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