The Defense Department is finalizing plans to prepare for a further outbreak of the novel coronavirus, as military laboratories help research a possible vaccine.
Washington Headquarters Services is finalizing its proposal to protect the Pentagon in case of an outbreak, focusing on prevention measures and other mitigation steps to keep the military’s nerve center running, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said March 5.
The military has formed a 24/7 management team to monitor the virus outbreak and the military response, operating in the National Military Command center in the Pentagon. This center can operate “for weeks at a time” in isolation if necessary, Esper said.
The broader military is looking at U.S. Forces-Korea’s response as the basis for how to respond to further outbreaks of the virus, Esper said. This includes social isolation in regular interactions, cleaning common areas, and other mitigation steps, Esper said.
“Things we can begin now to try and prevent the spread,” he said. Going forward, the Pentagon will also look at changing its approach to travel if necessary.
Military laboratories, including the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command’s Military Infectious Disease Research Program and Walter Reed Army Medical Institute of Research are researching the disease to potentially develop a vaccine. This research is in the early stages, with the absolute earliest timeline for development still 12 to 18 months out, officials said.