Military base COVID-19 numbers under wraps, reported by Pentagon by branch


Military installations, like Fort Carson, no longer report COVID-19 cases to the public. Rather, it's aggregated by service branch. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Military installations, like Fort Carson, no longer report COVID-19 cases to the public. Rather, it's aggregated by service branch.
While nursing homes, jails, hospitals and other agencies routinely disclose how many COVID-19 cases have erupted within their walls and populations, the military stopped doing that on a base-by-base basis beginning March 30.

That means that El Paso County citizens can't know the virus count at Fort Carson, the Air Force Academy, Peterson Air Force Base, the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station and Schriever Air Force Base.

Before the directive, the Academy disclosed a couple of on-base cases before the blackout was imposed. Fort Carson disclosed it had eight, and Peterson reported in a release that an active duty service member and a dependent, who are unrelated, had tested positive.

But all that has gone dark after the Pentagon's directive the keeps that information from citizens who live near the bases and might interact with base personnel.

"As we confront this growing crisis, and out of a concern for operational security with regard to readiness, we will not report the aggregate number of individual service member cases at individual unit, base or Combatant Commands," the directive states. reported the same day the directive was issued that cases among the ranks had doubled over a weekend.

The directive says base commanders are supposed to share COVID-19 case information with "local community health officials," but the citizens themselves can't know.

San Antonio's mayor took issue with that recently.

We asked El Paso County Public Health about the black-out and got this email response from spokesperson Michelle Hewitt:
Although military bases are located in El Paso County, they have their own dedicated public health personnel within the military to respond to cases, conduct investigations and provide guidance. Because of this, cases are reported to their assigned division for them to follow up as needed without the oversight of El Paso County Public Health (EPCPH). However, EPCPH often works with the military to identify cases, provide guidance and recommendations as needed. Military bases are expected to work within the Colorado Electronic Disease Reporting System (CEDRS) to ensure appropriate sharing of information and classifications of cases, however, they have a specific military system as well which DoD has determined as the appropriate method to report aggregate data.
She later said the military falls under federal jurisdiction and the county has no authority to report their data. "El Paso County Public Health maintains close collaboration with all military bases and coordinates with military partners on individual case investigations to determine if there is any risk of disease transmission to civilians in the El Paso County area," she wrote.

Of course, none of the numbers have been shared with the public locally.

Herbert Rubenstein, of Brooklyn, New York, who's representing a former cadet in a case against the Academy, tells the Indy via email:
Communities have a right to know how many people are infected with Covid-19 in their area. In this time of crisis, transparency is important so that people do not open up their locales for business without knowing the full extent of COVID-19 in their geographic area. The virus does not stop due to the walls of the base, the facility, or military school like our Academies.

Here are the latest numbers we could find:

For the Navy:
The Army says as of April 16 there were 1,636 confirmed cases. Of those, 717 were military members, 437 civilians, 171 contractors and 311 dependents. The Army did not provide to the Indy how many have been hospitalized and how many have recovered or died.

Here's the report for April 16 for all branches:

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