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US military preparing for potential coronavirus pandemic: report

The U.S. military is reportedly advancing plans to make ready for a potential pandemic of the coronavirus.

Last month, Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Supreme Court to hear case on diversion of Pentagon funds to border wall | Biden campaign cutting retired general from ad after objection | Trump's arms control talks with Russia hit wall Biden campaign removing retired general from ad after his complaint Overnight Defense: Pentagon IG to audit use of COVID-19 funds on contractors | Dems optimistic on blocking Trump's Germany withdrawal | Obama slams Trump on foreign policy MORE gave the order to initiate pandemic plans that include quarantining service members who have traveled to China since Feb. 2. The Military Times reported Thursday that troops around Asia have begun enforcing the directive at their own discretion on members who have traveled to China during the dates specified. 

Navy and Marine Corps messages reportedly sent out this week say the plans follow the Department of Defense Global Campaign blueprint for Pandemic Influenza and Infectious Diseases 3551-13, the Pentagon’s plan for combating the spread of the flu and previously unknown diseases.

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The Department of Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill. 

On Thursday, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed a 15th case of the virus in the U.S. Nearly all of the confirmed U.S. coronavirus cases have been in individuals who had recently traveled in China.

The latest patient is among a group of Americans who had been evacuated from Wuhan, China, and quarantined at a military base in Texas. 

In a CNN interview, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said that the coronavirus will likely stay for “beyond this season, or beyond this year,” as the disease has the potential to propagate in the United States.  

About 45,000 cases of the coronavirus has been confirmed in China, and 441 others have been identified outside of the country.

—Updated at 12:59 p.m.