The number of COVID-19 cases among airmen increased more than 75 percent since Sunday, according to the most recent figures from the service.
The Air Force reports that 290 airmen tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, up from the 164 that tested positive as of Sunday. That reflects a 76.8 percent increase.
A total of 16 airmen are hospitalized — down from 19 airmen on Wednesday — and 25 have made complete recoveries, the service said.
Among civilian Air Force personnel, the service reports that 82 civilians, 72 dependents and 21 contractors have COVID-19 as of Thursday. That’s a bump up from the 57 civilians, 41 dependents and 15 contractors from Sunday.
Altogether, the Air Force has reported 465 cases of personnel testing positive for the virus.
The pandemic has demanded the service to direct attention to the most critical missions over the next few months, which Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein described as a “reset” for the service.
“I’ve got to re-purpose some people from mission areas that are not essential to mission areas that are essential, and that’s not just something you do with a flip of a switch,” Goldfein told reporters Wednesday.
“There are all kinds of individual decisions that are associated with that bigger decision. So the reset I’m talking about is a broader reset across the Air Force to make sure that we keep our mission up and operating.”
Even though the Air Force has taken measures including canceling some military exercises, Goldfein said that the Air Force needs to put plans in place so intelligence and gathering operations, and combat operations can continue as the Air Force navigates the fluid “new normal.”
But a cookie-cutter solution won’t work for the Air Force since bases vary in geographic location, among other things, Goldfein said. As a result, he argued that social distancing and other policies to safeguard against the spread of the virus should remain at the discretion of wing commanders at Air Force installations.
“Every base has got a unique dynamic. … A one size fits all approach for every installation is doomed to fail,” Goldfein said.
According to the Pentagon, 978 service members from all branches of the military have tested positive for COVID-19, along with 306 civilians, 256 dependents and 108 contractors.