Monday, April 20, 2020

COVID-19 Plant Closures Affect DOD's Industrial Base

April 20, 2020 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

The most serious impacts to the Defense Department from COVID-19-related industrial closures domestically are in the aviation supply chain, shipbuilding and small space launch, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment said.

Speaking at a Pentagon news conference today, Ellen M. Lord said that internationally, several pockets of industrial base closures are affecting DOD, particularly in Mexico.

Lord said she's working with the State Department and with the Mexican government to try to get those companies reopened. ''These companies are especially important for our U.S. airframe production,'' she added.

The Defense Contract Management Agency is carefully tracking the state of the military's industrial base for the large prime companies, Lord said, and the Defense Logistics Agency is monitoring smaller vendors.

Out of 10,509 prime companies, 106 are closed, Lord said, noting that 68 other companies had closed, but have since reopened. Out of 11,413 vendor-based companies, she said, 427 are closed, with 147 that had closed and are now reopened.

Lord also provided an update of current COVID-19 actions taken by DOD.

The department is working closely with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, contracting for about $500 million in lifesaving supplies and equipment to service members and federal agencies, she said.

This support includes providing 60 decontamination systems that can sterilize up to 80,000 N95 masks per day. They are on order, she said, with some already delivered.

DLA is working closely with the services to better understand COVID-19 requirements, such as quantities of personal protective equipment for various locations, Lord said. DLA has provided 1.8 million N95 masks, 3.2 million nonmedical surgical masks, 54.8 million exam gloves, 8,000 ventilators and 275,000 isolation and surgical gowns to the services and several federal agencies, she said.

Additionally, Lord said, 3 million face coverings have been ordered for DOD personnel, with deliveries starting this week. She said she expects 135,000 delivered by the end of this month and 580,000 by the end of next month.

Last week U.S. Transportation Command was able to use the Defense Threat Reduction Agency's Transport Isolation System to move three COVID-19-positive cases from Afghanistan to Germany. These systems were developed during the 2014 Ebola outbreak but were never used until now, she said.

At-risk contractor employees in Afghanistan will leave that nation due to insufficient medical capability there, Lord said, noting that the projected number who redeploy will likely be less than 1,000.

DOD Humanitarian Assistance to the Italian Republic in Response to COVID-19

April 20, 2020

The Secretary of Defense, Dr. Mark T. Esper, today authorized the Department of Defense to provide humanitarian support to the Italian Republic as part of its global coronavirus pandemic relief efforts. In coordination with the Department of State, DoD efforts may include, but are not limited to, transporting non-DoD medical equipment, providing relief supplies, providing military personnel to support civilian humanitarian operations efforts, and providing telemedicine support to Italian medical facilities and medical services to non-COVID-19 Italian patients in Italy.  The U.S. European Command, in coordination with the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, will conduct these efforts through June 5, 2020, or until Italy no longer requires such support, whichever comes first. 

This assistance reflects the enduring friendship and partnership between the United States and Italy, which hosts more than 30,000 U.S. military members and their dependents.

Hospital Ship USNS Comfort Admits New Jersey Patients


The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort has begun admitting patients from hospitals in New Jersey in an effort to expand its support of the nation's COVID-19 response efforts.

New Jersey state hospitals coordinated with Comfort doctors to ensure patients could be effectively transferred across state lines and aboard the ship to receive care.

"Every one of those that we pull from the community or from the city hospitals is one more open bed for New Jersey hospitals to refill," said Navy Capt. (Dr.) Patrick Amersbach, commanding officer of the medical treatment facility aboard Comfort. "I'm very proud of the crew, our medical providers, nurses, support staff that are providing outstanding care to the people of New York City and New Jersey. We look at it as one patient at a time."

Moored in New York, the ship serves as a referral hospital for critical and noncritical patients without regard to their COVID-19 status. Comfort is working with Javits New York Medical Station, federal and state officials as an integrated system to relieve the medical systems for both New York City, as well as nearby New Jersey, in support of U.S. Northern Command's Defense Support of Civil Authorities as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Comfort is a seagoing medical treatment facility that has more than 1,200 personnel embarked for the New York mission, including Navy medical and support staff assembled from 22 commands and civil service mariners.

(Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Scott Bigley is assigned to U.S. 2nd Fleet.)