Pandemic may continue till summer of 2021 as Pentagon asks military to prep for coronavirus 'environment'
The coronavirus threat may extend until at least the summer of 2021, according to a leaked Pentagon Memo. It also warned of a possibility of coronavirus resurgence during the said period. The memo asked the defense department to prepare to work in a globally-persistent coronavirus environment, even if the country does not have a vaccine by then.
The document mentions the need for increased testing and maintaining a registry "to track and closely monitor outcomes of those infected with Covid-19". "We have a long path ahead, with the real possibility of a resurgence of Covid-19. Therefore, we must now refocus our attention on resuming critical missions, increasing levels of activity, and making necessary preparations should a significant resurgence of Covid-19 occur later this year," according to the memo obtained by Task & Purpose.
"All indications suggest we will be operating in a globally-persistent Covid-19 environment in the months ahead. This will likely continue until there is wide-scale immunity, through immunization, and some immunity post-recovery from the virus," the memo read. The document reportedly provides information on how the military can resume operations, including its return to training exercises and the other missions. However, according to The Hill, a Pentagon official said they could not find a version of the memo accessed by Task & Purpose and could not confirm it specifically.
But he did admit that they are drawing up plans to work — but none of them have been approved yet. "Senior DoD officials have discussed the development of a plan to reduce Health Protection Conditions around the world and continue the 2020 summer move cycle safely. The plans have not been approved by senior DoD leaders yet, and we’re not going to discuss what might be in the final version of those plans."
The defense organization hit pause on military exercises after the pandemic took hold. From June 5 to 19, the US Army Europe is planning to resume training in Poland. "In total, over 6,000 Soldiers and 3,000 pieces of equipment arrived in Europe, and over 9,000 vehicles were moved from Army Prepositioned Stocks to training areas in Germany,” US Army Europe said in a statement.
The Pentagon is preparing for the second wave of coronavirus infections. “We do not know what the trajectory of this virus will be. So my view has been that we’ll be at this for a number of months, at least until we get a vaccine,” United States Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said during a visit to US Northern Command in Colorado, adding that he doesn’t see social distancing “easing anytime soon.”
Even as the Pentagon memo is cautious about vaccine availability in the near future, the Trump administration is optimistic. "Winning matters, and we will deliver by the end of this year a vaccine at scale to treat the American people and our partners abroad. You know, the Department of Defense has been in this fight since day one, going back to January,” Esper said. He later added, “We will deliver, we will win this fight… We will get the job done."