A paratrooper assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team prepares for an air operation on Fort Bragg, NC, May 7.
Spc. Hubert Delany III | United States Army
WASHINGTON – The Department of Defense has reported a Covid-19 outbreak aboard a U.S. Navy destroyer, a new record of 1,300 coronavirus cases in the ranks, and an infection at the Pentagon.
"We saw a general surge in positive cases of Covid-19 at the start of the holiday season," Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters Tuesday, adding that the Department of Defense is taking steps to curb the spread of the disease.
The Pentagon will move to a stricter health protection level, HPCON Bravo-Plus, on Nov. 26, which will limit the number of people in the Pentagon and require face covers if social distancing is not an option. In addition, the Pentagon will double the number of temperature tests on workers entering the building.
"These changes are based on agencies delegated in March and give commanders the flexibility to act in the best interests of their personnel by maintaining the effectiveness of the mission," said Hoffman. "We will of course keep everyone informed of any additional changes to the force state," he added.
The Pentagon also had more than 1,300 newly confirmed cases of Covid-19 in its sister services, a new record for the military in just 24 hours. Defense officials have previously said that an increase in positive cases will have no impact on U.S. operations, readiness, or national security.
The Pentagon has reported a total of 110,982 cases since the coronavirus first appeared. Of these, 74,992 are military personnel on active duty, 18,162 civilians, 11,030 dependents and 6,798 contractors. Those numbers include 67,165 recoveries and 124 deaths across the department.
The Pentagon also pulled a U.S. Navy ship to the sidelines shortly after the ship erupted again.
The U.S. Navy's USS Michael Murphy, a guided missile destroyer for the Pacific Fleet, was withdrawn from training when nearly a quarter of the approximately 300 sailors aboard the ship test were positive for Covid-19.
The ship, now docked in Pearl Harbor, is currently being cleaned while the crew quarantine in Hawaii.
In March, the coronavirus swept through the decks of the U.S. Navy's USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier, which was en route in the Pacific.
Continue reading: Almost the entire crew of the coronavirus-affected aircraft carrier was tested and 9 treated for symptoms
The growing outbreak that threatened the crew on board the Roosevelt was hinted at in a leaked letter written by the ship's captain last month.
Captain Brett Crozier wrote a four-page letter calling on senior military leaders to take dramatic steps to protect the seafarers aboard the Roosevelt.
"We are not at war. Seafarers do not have to die. If we do not act now, we are not properly looking after our most trustworthy good – our seamen," wrote Crozier in the March 30 letter. The disease persists and accelerates. "
Shortly after the letter was published, Crozier was released from his command by then acting Secretary of the Navy, Thomas Modly. Crozier is believed to have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Modly redoubled his decision to exonerate Crozier, calling the captain of the former ship "naive" and "stupid". Hours later, Modly apologized to the Navy. The backlash rose to Modly's dismissal and followed President Donald Trump's suggestion to get involved in the crisis.
A day later, Modly submitted his resignation to then Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. The Secretary of Defense then announced that he had appointed James McPherson, Under Secretary of State for the Army, as the new Acting Secretary of the Navy.
In April, the Navy confirmed the death of a seaman assigned to the coronavirus-affected ship.