U.S. Department of Defense

04/06/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 04/07/2020 17:31

Department Of Defense Press Briefing by Assistant to the Secretary of Defense Hoffman

ASSISTANT TO THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JONATHAN RATH HOFFMAN: All right. Good afternoon.

Since I briefed you guys on Friday, the Department of Defense continues to move quickly as we work to stay ahead of the -- of need in combating COVID-19 hot spots around the country. As we've discussed before, DOD is providing four things in support of civilians -- emergency sites, emergency supplies, emergency staff, and emergency science. We're providing both capability and capacity.

Sites: Army Corps is building hospitals in convention centers. We've deployed hospital ships, expeditionary field hospitals from the Army, Air Force, and Navy, all to provide urgent care so that local medical facilities can focus on COVID-19 patients, as well as treating COVID-19 patients directly.

With supplies, we've released 10 million N95 masks. Ventilators are deployed or prepositioned in hot spots. And we're flying equipment back and forth across the globe.

With staff, the ships and field hospitals are fully staffed, but we are calling up additional units to send more doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists into the hot zones. And General Friedrichs will talk about that a little bit today. And we're also taking advantage of the DOD world-class research labs, including Fort Detrick and AMRIID to look into vaccinations and treatments.

Our immediate focus remains on supporting New York. While we hope, as Governor Cuomo expressed today, that New York has reached its apex, the DOD continues to surge assets to New York in preparation for the worst. To that end, we have opened the Javits Medical Facility to COVID-19 patients. The numbers on that, we've treated 44 patients there so -- so far. The facility will have 1,700 beds by this Friday and, unfortunately, expect many of those beds will be -- will be in use.

The Comfort has treated 41 patients, 31 are currently on board, 16 of which are in the ICU. The Comfort will continue to accept trauma emergency and urgent care patients irrespective of their COVID status. Our current preference, which could change at any time given the circumstances on the ground and the request by the governor is to see Javits Center beds used by COVID patients before moving them to the Comfort, as we discussed on Saturday or on Friday the reasons behind that, but we are a very attuned to the need of -- of New York City and New York State and continuing to evaluate that.

The DOD is staffing Javits Center with military personnel, creating immediate relief valve for the brave medical personnel of New York City. An additional 775 medical personnel have already arrived in New York, 225 more will arrive tomorrow with 500 by Wednesday. That means a total of 1,500 additional military medical personnel will be surging New York this week. Three hundred and fifty five of them will be deployed to 11 New York City hospitals to assist in patient care. Many of these hospitals have beds available, but they are starting to see their staff being squeezed by the -- the intense workload that they have been under, and we're hoping to alleviate and assist them.

We've delivered 5 million masks to New York City and 16 other states, 5 million more en route to Michigan, Texas, Washington, California, Virginia, New Jersey and Louisiana.

Outside of New York, the Department is rapidly building capacity around the country. Forty thousand service members are deployed to support COVID-19 operations, including nearly 4,000 medical personnel. Additionally, we have 15,000 Army Corps of Engineers personnel supporting the efforts.

Army is -- Army Corps is building 22 field hospitals and alternate care sites in 18 States. Seattle's field hospital is open today with 250 beds. Likewise, New Orleans field hospital is open today with 150 beds and will be under expansion to 275 in the coming days.

The number of patients being treated there will slowly climb as the need is realized within the system, and that system is tested for how it interacts with the rest of the medical community in that area. Construction is underway in Dallas, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, and the Corps has evaluated more than 650 sites, including hotels, convention centers and sports arenas for rapid conversion. Today we've obligated more than $165 million to medical construction, and that figure is growing every day.

Key to this effort is the state and local effort with the National Guard. Twenty-one thousand service members are running more than 100 test sites over 25 alternate care sites and distributing needed food, masks and gloves. They're unloading grocery trucks and manning food banks.

With regard to emergency science, DOD is investing over $600 million to start as well as more than a 100 -- more than a 1,000 scientific and technical personnel at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. At Fort Detrick, U.S. military researchers are at the forefront of vaccine and therapeutic development. And U.S. AMRIID expects to begin nonhuman primate vaccine testing today.

This weekend, the Secretary of Defense mandated that all personnel, including military, civilian, and family members on military installations, be required to wear masks when interacting less than six feet away from each other. The services we'll be putting out further guidance on wearing masks in uniform in the coming days.

And on Friday, the Secretary also signed a memo allowing service secretaries to pause basic training for two weeks. I believe you guys received an update from the Army Training Command earlier today, and we will have additional updates from the Navy and Air Force soon. The Services will continue to receive new recruits.

Dr. Friedrichs is here with me today to talk more about what the force is doing medically to surge doctors and nurses to the most vulnerable cities, so I'll turn it over to Dr. Friedrichs. Do you have any introductory remarks?

BRIGADIER GENERAL PAUL FRIEDRICHS: All right. Thank you very much. I just -- I want to say thank you first to the reservists who have volunteered, stepped forward when we asked for volunteers and, on very short notice, were mobilized. In fact, many of them are moving to New York as we speak. These are folks who identified that they could leave their communities and support the broader effort back in uniform.

And with that, I think we'll open it up for questions.

MR. HOFFMAN: Okay. I'm going to turn it over to see... Is Bob or Lita on the line? Okay. All right, Tom?

Q: For the General, could you explain to us, you know, why you see so few COVID patients at Javits? Is it because the hospitals haven't reached capacity yet? I guess, they're close to that. And do you expect sort of, you know, the surge of patients heading to Javits in the coming days?

GEN. FRIEDRICHS: Yeah. So I -- I think we would all be very happy if there's not a surge of patients that overwhelm the New York hospitals. But the people of New York need to know that if the hospitals are full, we're there and we will deliver great care to them. We're -- we've been there for days now, and we are standing by in case they need us.

As was mentioned a moment ago, we're sending additional staff there to augment the hospitals so that they can use their beds and their ICUs. But the key thing for the people of New York City is we are there for you if you need us.

Q: You mentioned medical personnel, what about transporting patients -- COVID patients from hospitals to Javits? Is that likely possible? What's your sense of that?

GEN. FRIEDRICHS: So each city has their own processes to move patients around the city to balance the load. And New York, obviously, is a very large city. It has a pretty sophisticated way to do that.

NORTHCOM is working with the emergency medical services there to -- to make sure that if they need us, they know how to get patients from wherever the patient is to where we are. Javits is the first -- and I think the -- you know, the place that we opened up first and we are ready to take patients that they need us to.

MR. HOFFMAN: All right. We'll go to the phone lines, try Idrees?

Q: Yeah, thanks.

Two quick questions, firstly, does Defense Secretary Esper still have confidence Acting Navy Secretary Modly even after his comments on the ship? And secondly, I just want to make sure you did say there has been no decision yet on starting treatment as COVID patients on the Comfort, correct?

MR. HOFFMAN: You want take that one first?

GEN. FRIEDRICHS: So we are treating whatever patient is sent to us by the New York EMS there. So the hospital ship is designed to take care of trauma patients, and that's what we originally offered was to serve as an overflow, if you will, for emergency rooms. But we're taking care of any patient that shows up. And as was mentioned previously, I think we've got 16 people in the ICU right now that we're taking care of.

MR. HOFFMAN: So with regard to your first question, I had a couple of meetings with the Secretary today, all of them were COVID-related and focused on the response efforts. We have not had an opportunity to -- to talk about the -- the Navy Secretary's remarks that were reported this morning. For the time being, I'll refer you to the Secretary's comments from yesterday. And -- but at this time, I don't have an update past that.

So, Jennifer?

Q: So in light of the Prime Minister's situation in Britain being in the intensive care unit, what is the plan for a designated survivor and any transition should the top leadership of this country fall victim to COVID-19? Who is the designated survivor after the President and Vice President? And are they in any sort of a quarantine sequester right now?

MR. HOFFMAN: So I think the Constitution and the Succession Act lays out a pretty clear guidance on who that -- that time -- that framework is and how it progresses. That's not something I've spent any time studying with regard to this, but I'd refer you to the White House with regard to -- to questions like that. DOD is -- is well-positioned with -- in terms of our leadership and ensuring that our leadership is -- is taking effective precautionary measures to limit the spread of COVID between our senior officials and ensuring that we have a -- we have a leadership framework in place.

Q: And did -- the Secretary authorized Secretary Modly to go out to the USS Roosevelt? Did he know he was going to speak to the crew?

MR. HOFFMAN: I haven't talked to him about that yet today, so I don't have an answer for you on that. I -- I look forward to speaking with him later about it, but I haven't had that chance today. We've been working on some other issues.

Q: Do you, as a Press Secretary, think it's appropriate for an acting Navy Secretary to talk about the press the way he did onboard this ship?

MR. HOFFMAN: So I -- I don't want to get into -- to the comments that he made. I think there will be a time for us to have that conversation. Today I want to focus on what we're doing. The General took his time here to talk about the medical efforts that we have been taking on with regard to COVID.

I think I've made my position with regard to working with the media in this building, in this position very clear. I think we've worked very hard to be transparent, to be open, to share information and have a -- a very productive relationship. So I think my position on the relationship between the Department and the media has been very clear for -- for some time. And at this time I don't have any other comments on Secretary Modly's conversations this morning.

All right. So we'll go back to the phone. We'll go to Luis from ABC.

Q: Hey, Jonathan, a question for the doctor please if I could. We're hearing now about flattening -- the possibility of flattening the curve in certain parts of the Northeast. How do you flatten the curve in the military given that you're spread out nationally? Does it depend on the local area or is it just its own little micro area, and it's going to be up to the local commanders to figure out if they are approaching the curve or not?

GEN. FRIEDRICHS: So thank you. I think it's no different, in many respects, in the military than it is in any community in the United States today. It starts with the individuals taking personal responsibility to minimize their contact and the risk that they -- if they become infected, spread that infection.

We've certainly implemented a number of measures as we've discussed when I've been out here previously going back all the way to January in which we have tried to limit the risk of spread within military installations or within military communities. That's very much a partnership since we're part of the broader community, and so each base or installation works with the community where they're located to understand how best to limit that risk not only to our population but to the community population.

And then at the enterprise level, we've been working very hard on clear policies that help to describe the best sciences as we understand it today derived largely from the Centers for Disease Control and the guidance that they put out for the nation. So it's a tiered approach, and it is going to look a little bit different in one community to the next based on what their resources are and their risks. Obviously, if you're in New York today, it's a very different place than if you're in a community that's not being hit as hard.

But I'll come back to something. I've mentioned each time someone's asked me this question, it starts with each of us as individuals. We have got to share the responsibility for protecting not only our families, but protecting our communities. In the military we do that every day. This is now part of what we, as a nation, have to do for each other.

MR. HOFFMAN: All right. I'm going to stick to the -- the phone line here and then we'll come back to the room. So, Courtney?

All right. We'll move on. Nancy?

All right. We'll come back to the room then. Ryan?

Q: Yes, sir, one question on the Roosevelt and then another question on the personnel. On the Roosevelt, on Friday, you said they hope to get 2,700 sailors off the ship by the end of the day. They are well short of that number as of today. Can you explain why they -- they've only met that they haven't come close to meeting their own scheduled target?

MR. HOFFMAN: So I -- I'd refer you to the Navy for the details on the process that they have in place. I have the updated numbers for today. So 61 percent of the crew have been tested, 173 positive, so we've seen the rate of increase declined well over the last few days.

As of today, they have 2,000 sailors that are off the ship. So they haven't hit 2,700. They've made a great progress toward that. Fortunately, we're still at the point where zero -- there's zero hospitalizations. My understanding on the process is that they are within the town of or within the -- the territory of Guam. They're only allowing persons that have had negative tests come back be allowed into those hotels. And so that's been the -- the issue for a lot of it is getting the people tested, getting the results, identifying the people who are negative and then moving them off into those locations.

I'd refer you to the Navy for more detail. That's -- that's the depth of my understanding of it.

Q: Thank you. And then on the -- on the additional military personnel, you mentioned the two field hospitals in Seattle and New Orleans. Will they be treating coronavirus patients at all and then -- coming online today? And then are you starting to stress out your medical military workforce? I mean, it's initially the military wasn't going to have a direct role in treating coronavirus patients. You're surging into New York City. Probably other cities are going to be similarly hit. How close are you to kind of having to do involuntary call-ups of the IRR or something of that nature?

GEN. FRIEDRICHS: So thanks. I think there were several questions in there. From the standpoint of stressing the medics who are involved in this, look, I think the entire country is stressed by this outbreak, and so is it stressful to be a medic taking care of an illness like this? Yes. Is it what we signed up for when we became doctors or nurses or pharmacists? Yeah, we knew we were going to take care of sick people.

Part of our commitment in the Department of Defense is to ensure that our medics have the protective equipment that they need so they can deliver the care that their patients need. That doesn't reduce the stress much, but that is part of that shared commitment going forward there.

I think from the standpoint of are we stressing the force as a whole, I would describe it as we're balancing risk. We know that the -- right now the biggest threat is in New York City, and so we are accepting risk in other communities by moving medics who normally work in other communities up to New York to help out those folks who are dealing with a really tough time right now.

I anticipate as this continues to evolve that we're going to adjust where we are and who we're taking care of based on the demands of each community, what they need at that moment in time. What it -- what I'm not able to do is say we're definitely going to do this on this date because it's a pretty fluid and pretty dynamic situation right now. We work closely with FEMA, and NORTHCOM continues to work with each of the local communities to understand what they need and how we can best support them and their citizens going forward. And we're adapting as we learn more about what's the most useful contribution that we can make.

Q: You're not worried about running short of personnel in the near-term?

GEN. FRIEDRICHS: So I'm worried about a lot of things, I think all of us are. And I would be lying if I tried to minimize this right now. I think it is a balancing equation that we're in right now of how do we balance risk to provide the greatest good to the greatest numbers. Am I worried that we're going to run out? That's the whole discussion we, as a nation, have been having as can we -- to go back to an earlier question -- flatten the curve so we don't overwhelm the system.

Part of what we're trying to do as military medics is to help communities so that they have enough capacity that if someone needs care they can get it until we can get beyond that peak in that particular community. I think so far we've been able to do that. You know, my hats off to the communities in Washington State. I think they've done an excellent job there and we're working with many other communities going forward to make sure that we can fall in on that local infrastructure, help them get through the worst period and then go to wherever else they need us next.

Q: Thank you.

MR. HOFFMAN: All right. So we've got a -- we've got a -- an e-mail question from the A.P. so they weren't able to jump on. So this is for you, Doc.

GEN. FRIEDRICHS: Okay.

MR. HOFFMAN: Can you bring us up-to-date on the hospital ships on both coasts and whether they will accept a COVID patient or whether they have gotten any infected patients on board deliberately or accidentally due to the new ambulance drop-off program?

GEN. FRIEDRICHS: So both hospital ships are accepting patients. And, you know, our commitment has been that if a patient comes to us we would take care of them. Have we had patients who ultimately were determined to have coronavirus on the hospital ships? Yes, and we're taking care of them just like we're taking care of all the other patients going forward.

So, you know, part of what we're there for as military medics is to help those communities and to help the patients that are brought to us for care. And that's exactly what we're doing.

MR. HOFFMAN: Mike?

Q: What are the numbers on the Mercy now? You said the numbers for the Comfort. What about the numbers on the Mercy? And for the ones when you do have a coronavirus patient that discovers while they're patient, do you -- are you able to put them in some kind of quarantine room there or if you already, have you set-up places for that?

GEN. FRIEDRICHS: So yes, we have the ability on the hospital ships to isolate --

Q: (Inaudible).

GEN. FRIEDRICHS: Yes, to isolate a -- a -- a small number of patients. Again, that's not what the ships are primarily designed for, but yes, we have the ability to do that. So, you know, the challenge with coronavirus, like many infectious diseases, is someone comes in and they're sick and you don't know exactly what the cause of their illness is. So the first charge is do no harm, and that's exactly the approach that we've taken, how do we take care of the person who's in front of us and deliver the care that they need.

Part of that early assessment is doing the testing for a whole lot of things, whether it's flu or a chest X-ray to see if they have pneumonia or a test to see if they have coronavirus. If we determine that they have coronavirus, then we will isolate them. And right now, in many cases, if we think they might, we're isolating them proactively until we get the test results back going forward. So yes, we have the ability to isolate a small number on each of the ships, and we are using that as we go forward.

Q: How many numbers on the -- on the Mercy? Do you have that?

GEN. FRIEDRICHS: I'm looking for that right now and among the many numbers that I had, it's -- it's less than 50, but I'll get you the exact number by the end of the day today.

MR. HOFFMAN: Okay. We'll go back to the phone lines. T.M.?

Q: Hey, T.M. here. Thanks.

I mean, I understand you don't want to talk about the Roosevelt but this is kind of a crisis of the Pentagon's own making. And just a question on that, so if Secretary Esper still has trust and confidence in the Acting Secretary of the Navy, what do you do if the Navy doesn't have trust and confidence in their Acting Secretary?

MR. HOFFMAN: So, like I said, it's not that I don't want to -- I said I'm not going to. So in this case, I'm going to refer you the Secretary's comments from yesterday. I haven't spoken with him about this today, so I don't have any additional input to give you on that -- that topic. So any follow-ups or any additional questions on other topics, T.M.?

Q: All set. Thanks.

MR. HOFFMAN: Okay. David Martin, CBS?

Q: Could you finish on the question of whether or not the field hospitals in Seattle and New Orleans will accept COVID patients or if they're going to operate under the same principle as the hospital ships?

GEN. FRIEDRICHS: Yes, so thank you and -- look, we'll -- we'll take care of whatever patients the local community send to us in both of those locations. NORTHCOM has been working with -- with the local communities and with FEMA. The Secretary did authorize the facilities to provide the support that was needed there, so that's -- that's why we're there.

MR. HOFFMAN: Meghann.

Q: So the CDC has predicted there could be up to 50 percent of the Americans, right, who end up contracting COVID-19. What are your guys' projections in terms of troops given that the infection rate is already a little bit lower, the hospitalization and death rates are also lower?

GEN. FRIEDRICHS: Yeah. So I think you've hit on one of the real challenges of this outbreak right now is that the projections are proving not to be all that accurate. And so as I said a few minutes ago, what we're focusing on is how do we minimize risk today and how do we make sure we're taking care of those who are sick today and, most importantly, minimize more people becoming sick. You know, we'll know in a few months what the real transmission rate is and what the real infection rate is. But right now what we're focused on is taking care of those who are sick and minimizing the number of additional folks who become sick.

MR. HOFFMAN: Okay. We'll go to the phones, Jack, Foreign Policy?

Q: Hey, nothing at this time.

MR. HOFFMAN: Okay. Sylvie, AFP?

Q: Yes, hello. Do you hear me?

MR. HOFFMAN: Yup.

Q: Okay. I wanted to know how -- how far you are right now in the development of a vaccine? And also we heard this morning that the military don't have -- don't have enough antibody tests, so they cannot know if somebody is -- has already, you know, recovered from COVID-19 and could be healthy and -- and ready to go anywhere. So I wanted to know where you are in terms of a vaccine, antibody tests and antiviral treatments.

GEN. FRIEDRICHS: Yeah, so thank you, ma'am, for those questions. As far as vaccines are concerned, we're pursuing a number of different vaccine candidates. I think there's five that the Department of Defense is directly involved in as well as supporting a number of projects through our interagency collaboration. So we have trials that we're either directly supporting or research that we're doing directly as well as supporting efforts by other federal agencies, and those are moving forward.

As Mr. Hoffman mentioned in his opening comments, we have some animal safety trials beginning today at one of our labs. I think it's important for everyone to keep in mind that this is a -- a process that is going as quickly as it can, and we're balancing again that risk of how do we make sure any vaccine candidates are safe. Try them first on animals, then we try them on a small group of people. Then once we know that they're safe, we expand the testing of the vaccine candidates to try them on a larger group to see how effective they are. And only when we know that they are both safe and effective will we be able to offer them more widely to larger numbers. So we're making progress on those. I don't want to create a false expectation though that the -- a vaccine is right around the corner. As has been briefed by Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx and many others, we are still months away, not weeks away from a vaccine as we step through doing this as safely and effectively as possible.

As far as medical countermeasures are concerned, we're also involved in a number of trials both within our military facilities and in support of our interagency and academic partners looking at different drugs to see if they might have some impact on reducing either the severity of an infection or the length of an infection. I think we'll get results back -- no, I think we will get results back on those faster than we will on the vaccine trials.

Q: Okay. And do -- yeah. Do you -- do you distribute chloroquine to military personnel?

GEN. FRIEDRICHS: Ma'am, could you repeat the question please?

Q: Do -- do you give -- you know, this very much discussed medication, chloroquine, to -- to military personnel?

GEN. FRIEDRICHS: So that is one of the drugs that's being tested. There is a trial ongoing right now with chloroquine. But no, we are not widely distributing it to everybody in the military.

And then you had also asked about antibody testing or serology testing.

Q: Yes.

GEN. FRIEDRICHS: So I think the best organization to answer that right now is the Centers for Disease Control. They've just brought online a large capacity for that type of serology testing. In addition, we are doing research on that in some of our labs to look at what will be the most meaningful serology test to help us identify either who has previously been infected or who's fully recovered. But right now, the -- the best gauge that we have for who has recovered is the absence of symptoms or two negative polymerase chain reaction tests. So we're following the CDC guidelines to document who is fully recovered from an infection.

MR. HOFFMAN: Okay. Jennifer, you have a follow-up?

Q: Dr. Friedrichs, can I just follow-up? Do you have any new information or any suspicion that this COVID-19 may have been the result of a bioweapon? I know there initially was some talk of that. It was laughed at. But then it keeps coming back around in some reports. Is there anything to that?

GEN. FRIEDRICHS: No.

MR. HOFFMAN: All right. So go back to the --

GEN. FRIEDRICHS: And -- and if I could just be clear, there is nothing to that. I -- I think there's -- someone asked me if I was worried. That is not something that I'm worried about. I think, you know, right now what we're concerned about is how do we treat people who are sick, how do we prevent people from getting sick. But no, I am not worried about this as a bioweapon.

MR. HOFFMAN: Okay. So let's go back to the phones. Jeff from Task & Purpose?

Q: Thank you very much. Mr. Hoffman, you're also an attorney -- a lawyer. Is it possible that Secretary Modly may have committed unlawful command influence with his comments about the Theodore Roosevelt?

MR. HOFFMAN: We've had this conversation before. I am not allowed to practice law from the podium. I've been given very strict guidance from our General Counsel, so I will refrain from -- from answering that question.

So one last time, anybody from NBC? I saw Courtney. Mosheh?

Q: Could I have a follow-up?

MR. HOFFMAN: Sure, Jeff, as long as it's not a legal question.

Q: No. You said the Secretary is allowing the Air Force and the Navy to -- all the services to pause basic training for two weeks. Can you say whether the Army and the Navy had initially proposed such a pause and that they were ultimately overruled?

MR. HOFFMAN: I don't -- I don't quite follow you on that because I know the Navy -- the Army has announced a pause. I don't quite follow that. Can you -- can you repeat that?

Q: There was a Washington Post story about a month ago that said the Army had proposed putting a 30-day stay on basic training, and the Navy had proposed kind of a middle route, but ultimately the Pentagon decided it was better to keep shipping recruits to basic training and boot camps. Since then, of course, the Army has announced its pause. I'm talking about a month ago was the -- did the Defense Department decide over what the Services had suggested to continue suggesting recruits -- the shipping recruits to basic training.

MR. HOFFMAN: No, I think -- I think what you just described is an interagency process, so I think what you described is a -- is a conversation between the different services -- the Army, the -- the Air Force and the Navy -- about the process that they wanted to pursue and they thought was the best with regard to training.

And so each service has very different demands. I mean, the Army has four major training bases around the country. The -- the Marine Corps does two, one on each coast, the Air Force has Lackland as their major one, the Navy has a couple, so they have some different processes.

So I think what you saw over the last month, I'm not exactly sure when that story you're quoting happened, but where each of the services came together with the Secretary, sat down with the Chairman, received his best advice, received advice from the Service Secretaries, and the result of that conversation was the Secretary giving direction to the Services and authorizing a -- a -- a two-week pause, at this point, to -- to adjust the training.

And so what the expectation is, is some additional processes have already been put in place. I think you've seen the Marine Corps has begun alternating training classes, one on the West Coast, one on the East Coast in an effort to spread it out. The Air Force has adopted measures to -- to spread out the number of -- of trainees coming through. But they have -- they've taken different approaches, but the guidance was to get on some sort of a -- a minimum standard footing. And then what we'll do is, over the coming weeks and months, we'll look -- look at that and decide whether any adjustments need to be made.

But -- but what you've described sounds to me like the interagency process that -- that normally takes place at the Department between the Services and with the Chairman providing advice to the Secretary.

Mosheh?

Q: So the -- the only question I had was -- so yesterday the White House basically said that this week was going to be -- we could see a lot of peaks. It was kind of a -- a banner week. Do we -- I think that the -- for the military that those same models are going to follow for military personnel, is there any indication for any -- any further measures that are going to be put in place to kind of help mitigate that?

GEN. FRIEDRICHS: So thank you. You know, we look at this every day, and I have been part of those discussions with senior leaders looking at risk and what our -- what our data is telling us about what's happening in particular locations around the world or in specific locations. And -- and then we make decisions about what the best actions are to mitigate risk.

I don't think that the military population is going to be hugely different than an age-matched population. We're going to appear different because we have a lot more young people, and so that may create the perception that somehow we're having different outcomes than everybody else. But from -- from a medical standpoint, we're implementing the same measures that the president and others have encouraged the entire country to implement. And they are proving to be effective.

You've seen the reports coming out of Korea. Good social distancing and really aggressive measures to limit the spread have -- had a very positive effect on limiting the number of people who became infected on any of our bases in Korea even though they were in areas with large community outbreaks. I think that's the best-case scenario that we do our part to implement those prudent measures, and we reduce the number of infections within our community so that we don't create a further burden either on our system or on the community system.

MR. HOFFMAN: Okay.

GEN. FRIEDRICHS: And if I could just -- to go back to the question that was answered, I knew I had it somewhere in my book, there were 22 patients treated total so far on the Mercy, so --

MR. HOFFMAN: So the last question will go to Ellen from Synopsis.

Q: Hi. Well, hang on. Sorry, I have to figure out how the phone works. Good afternoon, sir. Could you give me a breakout of where the medical personnel are coming from -- from which service and how many active duty and how many are reserve?

GEN. FRIEDRICHS: So where they're coming from particularly for the volunteer reservists is really all over the country. I mean these are men and women who stepped up when we asked for volunteers and said that they were willing to leave their communities. So I don't have a breakdown for all 700 of them as far as where they're coming from. We have 125 Air Force Reservists who are going to New York. We have 200 Navy Reservists who are also going to New York. And then we've got a variety of other teams -- reserve teams that are going to New Jersey and to Connecticut.

I think the -- the key thing on this and I -- I started with this and I'll end with this, you know, the American people are recognizing this is not business as usual and people are stepping up to help each other out, and that is exactly what you're seeing with these reservists, and my hats off to them because they have chosen to leave their homes and come forward when we asked for volunteers to help out. So where they come from, they come from America. This is what we're doing. We're each stepping forward to help each other out.

Thank you.

Q: Can you give me a breakout by service?

GEN. FRIEDRICHS: Sure, I'll be happy to provide that separately. We can give that breakout separately.

MR. HOFFMAN: Okay. All right, everybody, thank you very much.

And I appreciate everybody's frustration with my inability to provide comment right now on the T.R., but I will -- I'll be working on that, try to get back to you guys after I talk with the Secretary today. It's been a busy day focused on COVID and the -- the coming peak in New York and what we're trying to do.

So appreciate your patience. Thank you, guys.