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DOD announces death of first US service member from COVID-19

Secretary Mark Esper said, 'today is a sad day for the Department of Defense.'

WASHINGTON — The Department of Defense has announced that a New Jersey Army National Guardsman has died from COVID-19 complications Saturday. The person had been hospitalized since March 21 after testing positive, the agency says. 

In a statement, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said "this is a stinging loss for our military community, and our condolences go out to his family, friends, civilian co-workers and the entire National Guard community. The news of this loss strengthens our resolve to work ever more closely with our inter-agency partners to stop the spread of COVID-19." 

Credit: Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet
LOS ANGELES (March 29, 2020) One of the Department of Defense's missions is Defense Support of Civil Authorities. DoD is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, as well as state, local and public health authorities in helping protect the health and safety of the American people. (U.S. Navy)

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The DoD says it made dramatic moves at the start of the year to try and protect service members along with civilian employees, contractors and families as the world has fought to battle the coronavirus pandemic. The measures have included the termination of certain work and training activities. Also, social distancing and testing have been ramped up according to the Department of Defense.