First US service member dies from coronavirus

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A New Jersey National Guardsman died over the weekend after testing positive for the coronavirus, the Pentagon announced on Monday, the first U.S. service member to die from COVID-19.

Army Capt. Douglas Linn Hickok, a physician assistant, died on Saturday in Pennsylvania after having been hospitalized since March 21, National Guard Bureau Chief Gen. Joseph Lengyel wrote on Twitter.

Hickok had lived in New Jersey from 1997 to 2009, then moved to Maryland to work as a civilian physician’s assistant at Andrews Air Force Base. Since 2017, he had lived in Pennsylvania, where he worked as an orthopedic physician assistant.

“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,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement. 

“The news of this loss strengthens our resolve to work ever more closely with our interagency partners to stop the spread of COVID-19,” he added.

Currently, 569 active-duty service members have contracted the illness, as have 220 civilian personnel, 190 family members and 64 contractors. A contractor and a dependent died earlier this month from the virus. 

Those numbers are expected to increase as more tests become available and as service members are increasingly being asked to help with the outbreak.

State governors have mobilized more than 10,000 Guardsmen across the United States, and President Trump on Friday signed an executive order that allows the Pentagon to recall up to 1 million reserve members to help supplement troops already being used to combat the illness.

In addition, the Defense Department has dispatched two Navy hospital ships to New York and Los Angeles, sent Army field hospitals to both the east and west coasts, and identified 114 sites that could be converted to hospitals during the pandemic.

–This report was updated on April 1 at 10:33 p.m.

Tags Coronavirus Defense Department Donald Trump Mark Esper Pentagon Twitter U.S. Army National Guard
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