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Pentagon confirms first US Army death from Covid-19

Pentagon confirms first US Army death from Covid-19
A New Jersey Army National Guardsman is the first member of the US military to die of the Covid-19 coronavirus, the US Department of Defense has confirmed.

“Today is a sad day for the Department of Defense as we have lost our first American service member – active, reserve or Guard – to coronavirus,” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said in a statement on Monday, sending condolences to the man’s friends, family, civilian co-workers and the National Guard.

Governor Phil Murphy identified him as Captain Douglas Linn Hickok, a physician’s assistant from Jackson Township. He passed away on Saturday, having been hospitalized since March 21 and testing positive for Covid-19.

Esper insisted that the DoD adopts “dramatic mitigation measures” to protect members of the military, civilian employees, contractors and their families from the virus. Even so, there have been 569 active-duty service members, 220 civilians, 190 family members and 64 contractors diagnosed with the coronavirus as of Monday morning.

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While the Pentagon will continue disclosing the aggregate number of Covid-19 cases, it will not break them down by service branch, unit, base or combatant command going forward.

“We will continue to do our best to balance transparency in this crisis with operational security,” spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said in a statement on Monday.

The change in policy comes just days after AP reported that two dozen sailors on the carrier USS 'Theodore Roosevelt' had tested positive for Covid-19, meaning that the ship originally deployed in the South China Sea would be sidelined in Guam for weeks while the 5,000-strong crew gets tested.

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