Mar 20, 2020
Transcript: Pentagon Officials on Army’s Response to Coronavirus
Pentagon officials spoke in a press conference about the United States Army is responding to COVID-19. Reead the full transcript right here.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (00:00)
… Ryan McCarthy, Secretary of the Army. I’m here with General James McConville, our Chief of Staff. [inaudible 00:00:04] Army, Tony [Gritstone 00:00:00:05]. Lieutenant General Scotty Dingle, Surgeon General of the Army. Lieutenant General Todd Semonite, Chief of Corps of Engineers. Lieutenant General Charlie Flynn, Director of Operations and Strategic Plans, Department of the Army. And I’ll start off with some opening comments, and then we’ll just open up Q&A to answer any of your questions. We’ve got to get out of here no later than about 1600 and get back to the office. So with that, let me just make a couple of remarks.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (00:33)
So, thanks for coming. We are trying to bring an update on the COVID-19 response efforts to protect our people, maintain mission readiness and support the whole of government effort. We plan to provide these updates as routinely as we can. We’ll just work out a rhythm that’s appropriate. Our goal is to be as transparent as possible, and keep an open line of communication about what the Army is doing to meet the intent of the secretary defense and the president. As of 1900 on 19 March, currently the US Army has 45 cases. This number includes 21 soldiers, six DA civilians, eight family members and 10 contractors. Responding in times of crisis, helping restore peace in times of chaos and organize against a threat is what the Army does best. We have 191,000 soldiers operating on missions worldwide, and must preserve our ability to meet the needs of the nation.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (01:32)
This means that we are ensuring that overseas, those overseas, including their unique geographic constraints and what operational considerations for forced Hill protection. We are altering exercises, training in our current day to day operations to ensure safety for all. To meet the intent of the secretary of defense, the Army is aligned against three lines of effort, prevent, detect and treat. To prevent the spread of virus, we must adhere to the social distancing guidelines from the CDC, such as quarantine and hand-washing. The Army is a people organization. We’re used to eating together, working out in the same areas and being in horseshoe formations.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (02:15)
Leaders, we must change our behavior and prevent the spread of the virus. This isn’t forever, but it’s the reality of now. We look to examples of General Roger Cloutier, commanding in Italy and General Abrams commanding in Korea, who have effectively stopped the virus from spreading by taking proper and aggressive measures. We could not be more proud of their actions. We have world-class scientists that are working on the Coronavirus vaccine, such as Dr. Nelson Michael and Dr. [Kayvon Majard 00:02:45]. We’re all former colleagues of Dr. Fauci and Dr. Redfield, which helps bring tremendous collaboration to all of our efforts.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (02:53)
Our organizations, such as the Medical Research and Development Command are rapidly researching and experimenting with a vaccine, and currently in tests in small and large animal models. The Army is collaborating with the private sector, and other government entities, on five tracks of the vaccine with two dozen candidates, some that are heading towards human testing. We need to compile as much extensive information as possible to combat this current virus. On the detection front, our organization, in concert with external entities, are working rapidly to increase the throughput of testing. With the widened aperture, we can test our force at a higher rate.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (03:33)
The Army has nine medical treatment facilities with clinical laboratories, certified to conduct COVID-19 testing. Our surge capacity will increase, because we are working supplemental funding and the utilization of the Defense Production Act. Today we are currently at 810 samples today, and have concepts in place to get us North of 16,000 per day as we procure additional instrumentation. For the treat line of effort, the Army Corps of Engineers is working with state governments in 13 states, and we’ll reach 18 by this evening. To provide planning and concept development on behalf of FEMA, to increase bed space, and support to augmentation and enhance medical response.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (04:13)
In addition, installation hospitals are recalibrating screening protocols to be able to rapidly assess and treat patients, while working towards increasing capacity for larger volumes of infections, if needed. We have received the be prepared mission to respond, and should the need arise to surge additional medical support, we are ready. Additionally, we are working through the second and third order effects of the impact COVID-19, and the subsequent responses. Realize you don’t have to be infected to be affected by the virus, and we understand the strain that comes with decisions being made.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (04:49)
To ease some of the burden, we are reevaluating policies in place that don’t make sense in time of a national crisis. These range from adjusting exercises, the defender series and combat training center rotations, delaying PCS moves, and providing assistance and unanticipated cost to families. This includes evolving of how we recruit, moving to a virtual based platform, turning to a virtual learning for educational institutions, such as West Point and the Army War College. In adopting an information age approach for milestone events, such as basic training graduations, so that family and friends can still celebrate with our newest members of the formation. The health protection of our force and our families, coupled with our ability to support the state and local governments, creates the conditions to suppress and defeat the COVID-19 virus.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (05:38)
Finally, I’d like to point out today that the Army, in a joint effort with the Navy, conducted a successful long range flight of a hypersonic glide body missile. This is a significant milestone for our number one priority, long range precision fires and a true testament that the Army’s prepared to fight today, across a range of threats, from adversarial actors to strands of a pandemic. We are incredibly proud of the force and we’re happy to take your questions.
Speaker 1: (06:06)
Okay. So Bob, we’ll hit you first and then we’ll go to Barb.
Okay, thank you. For either of you gentlemen, a narrow question then a bit of a broader one. Did you say, Mr. Secretary, that you’re moving to virtual recruiting only? In other words, are you closing recruiting stations, physical recruiting, face-to-face recruiting?
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (06:25)
Do you want to take that one, chief?
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (06:27)
Yes we are. We are going to basically virtual recruiting. Much of that is done on social media, and that allows us to protect our soldiers and also protect the new recruits. So, yes we are.
So, you’re closing the recruiting stations?
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (06:44)
Yes, we are.
As of today, or?
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (06:46)
It’s either today … It’s happening right now, as we speak. I can’t attest to that every recruiting station, but that is what we are doing over this week and over the next couple of days, that’s what you’ll see. But we are moving to, I would say, virtual recruiting.
Okay, and I have a bit of a broader question for [crosstalk 00:07:06] the secretary. The experts say that you can anticipate that the spread of the virus will only accelerate, and is likely to of course, not exclude the military. So I’m wondering what sort of worst case scenario you foresee for the Army, in terms of how you will have to adjust?
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (07:25)
Bob, we’re taking this day to day. A lot of this is looking at the trend data, just to how great it will go. The things that we’ve learned from General Abrams in Korea and General Cloutier in Italy, is create these safety bubbles where you keep unit formations intact, and then ultimately see if you can ride this out. Was this going to be a seasonal flu? Will it kind of reverberate or boomerang in the fall? So, we keeping the force healthy, information’s intact and adjust as we learn more.
So you don’t have a specific kind of worst case situation that you’re planning for?
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (08:01)
Well, we’re learning every day right now. So I think we’re taking a look at some options, but we need to collect more data.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (08:08)
The testing is key.
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (08:09)
And I would just add to the secretary, what we’ve found both in Korea and in Italy is very strong measures where we’re screening, where we’re separating, where we’re really washing our hands and then we’re quarantining as soon as anyone comes up with any type of sign they maybe infected has been very effective in those two areas.
Speaker 1: (08:27)
Okay. We’re going to go to Barbara.
I think my questions are for the Surgeon General and General Semonite, if I may? So …
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (08:37)
Can you [crosstalk 00:08:38] microphone possibly?
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (08:40)
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (08:49)
What’s the question?
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (08:49)
Surgeon General Scott Dingle: (08:49)
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (08:50)
[inaudible 00:08:50] social distancing.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (08:50)
Step back [inaudible 00:08:50] there. Sorry, Chief.
For the Surgeon General, my first two questions are, can you tell us how many Army personnel are in fact in isolation, or quarantine or however you define it? How many people are in that status of isolation? If you happen to know how many you’re awaiting test results on, we have all seen this medical data emerge that Dr. [Burks 00:09:14] os talking about, extensively about younger people may be asymptomatic but more potentially susceptible to becoming ill. I am wondering if that makes you rethink your calculations, the military’s, the assumption going in young, healthy force. Does any of this new medical data make you rethink that? And for the Army Corps, if you could just bring us up to date on your discussions with Governor Cuomo in New York, please?
Surgeon General Scott Dingle: (09:43)
Do I … So right now we have a few soldiers absolutely in our medical treatment facilities. The exact number, as of yesterday, was eight. This afternoon it could go higher, but again, those that we are, the soldiers that have been identified as positive with COVID, they are in proper treatment and care in our medical treatment facilities. As far as hitting the Army and our soldiers, which is a younger age, you are absolutely correct. What we’ve done is we’ve conducted and have implemented our pandemic emergency preparedness plans. And so, we are prepared for an increased wave. Every medical treatment facility, every installation commander has come together, and we have what we call our pandemic emergency preparedness plans, which expand in worst case scenarios if more of our soldiers get impacted, or as well as our beneficiary population.
Could you say how many personnel are in some kind … Aside from the positives, how many are in some kind of presumptive protected isolation or quarantine, until they pass this 14 day period?
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (10:58)
So you’re talking troops coming from overseas, and then the …
Sorry, general. [crosstalk 00:11:02].
Charlie Flynn, Director of Operations and Strategi: (11:02)
So Barbara, let me … I would just say this, because the numbers change every day. Every senior commander [crosstalk 00:11:09]-
Charlie Flynn, Director of Operations and Strategi: (11:10)
I don’t have a number, because it changes hourly. So what I would express to you, is every senior commander on his installation, back here in the continental United States, has to create isolation facilities and self quarantine facilities. So the better part of about seven to 10 days ago, senior commanders had to start doing that. So you’ve got to go find those facilities. Some are empty barracks, some are other facilities on each of these installations, so that when people do come back from overseas, because we do have people returning from overseas, that they can go to self quarantine, if they exhibit symptoms. And then we can keep some units together. So they go to the same dining facility, they’re in the same location, but they’re isolated from the general population, both off post and on post.
Can we get a quick update on New York?
Charlie Flynn, Director of Operations and Strategi: (12:07)
Chief of Corps of Engineers Todd Semonite: (12:11)
So Barbara, before I talk about a specific state, I think it’s important to kind of lay out our concept here, because you’ve not heard this and we’re going to talk about this a lot probably in the next couple of weeks. First of all, the Corps of Engineers obviously works for DOD and anything we need to do there. But we also here are actually representing FEMA, under direct mission assignments that states send to FEMA and then send back down to me for taskers. This is an unbelievably complicated problem, and there’s no way we’re going to be able to do this with a complicated solution. We need something super simple.
Chief of Corps of Engineers Todd Semonite: (12:38)
So our concept here is a standard design. This is the approved design. It’s already been through HHS, briefed the members of the White House, and through FEMA. What we want to do, is we want to go into existing facilities, primarily. Places that are out there, and I’m mainly going to talk and make it simple, hotels, college dormitories and perhaps large spaces. So I’ll give you an example of a small room and a large room. What we need to do, is we need to go into … These hotels are empty. The people don’t have jobs. We would go in and cut a contract, to be able to have the state set up a lease with that particular facility, and then we would then take the building over in a period of exceptionally short amount of days, and we would go in and turn this into an ICU like facility.
Chief of Corps of Engineers Todd Semonite: (13:20)
So there’s really four different phases. The state has to nominate the facilities in a prioritized order, and I’ll talk about Governor Cuomo in a minute. Number two, is the Corps of Engineers has to come in and to be able to modify for that facility. And we can go into more details and other questions, but it goes back to be able to change the pressure in certain hotel rooms, to be able to have a negative pressure in a hotel room. The third thing, is then you’ve got to be able to put the supplies in that. And FEMA working with HHS has come up with a list that every single hotel room would get the same amount of supplies. It would just go in and it’d already be there. And then the fourth step is to be able to staff it. This has to be a state job. The state has to put the people in there. You’ve got to clean it and train it. And therefore, just think, you’ve all been in hotels …
Chief of Corps of Engineers Todd Semonite: (14:03)
In air, you’ve got to clean it and train it and therefore, just think, you’ve all been in hotels. Think of the second floor of a standard hotel. The rooms would be like an eye, like a hotel room, and then we would build nurse’s stations in the halls. We would have all of the equipment, wireless going into the nurses station, so you could monitor how are those going to work. Now let me correlate this back to New York. We want to use New York as this standard setter and when I met with governor Cuomo, he said right up front, “What can I do?” I said, “The biggest thing you need to do is start identifying facilities.” He said, “How fast do you need them?” I said, “I need one tonight. I need three by tomorrow night.”
Chief of Corps of Engineers Todd Semonite: (14:33)
We actually got turned on by the governor. We got money from FEMA to go into buildings on Tuesday night. We did the Javits center yesterday and we were into some of the SUNY schools yesterday. Today my engineers were walking through 10 other buildings, five of those are hotel like capabilities and five of those are open spaces, to be able to continue to be able to figure out, “what does right look like?” Then we give this design to a contractor and then he site adapts that design. If it’s a hotel with four floors, they change a little bit different. If it’s got central air, we change it. The bottom line is, we’ve got to do something very, very quick.
Chief of Corps of Engineers Todd Semonite: (15:06)
Most of the governors are saying that their peak is somewhere around the middle of April, so this is not take all the time in the world to do it. This is what is just barely the most important things we have to do and to be able to come up with a good enough solution. I’ll leave it there and we can talk later in more detail.
Speaker 2: (15:19)
Very briefly, do you have the money you need to do this?
Chief of Corps of Engineers Todd Semonite: (15:22)
Right now, money is not a problem at all. FEMA has given us the capability and Secretary talked about the 13 other States. That’s why we’re there. We’re asking those governors tonight, “What are your priorities?” I’m in 50 states, my guys are we can go into other states right now and continue to be these same type of assessments as we need to. I’ll defer back to Secretary.
Speaker 3: (15:40)
[inaudible 00:15:40] Tom and then I want to take a couple of them from online. I’ll get that one first.
Speaker 4: (15:43)
I want to get back to the testing. Mr. Secretary, you talked about 810 samples so far at these nine treatment facilities. You could get to 16,000 per day. Would that be for the army and dependents? Would that be for civilians? Who would be able to get tested?
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (16:00)
A couple things that we’re talking about, creating the test capability, be able to run a test through a machine. Now, the labs that I referenced before, you have the scientific backbone to be able to take that positive test out and extract all of the information required. General Dingle can talk specifically about this, but there’s a lot of different pieces throughout the test continuum. Some of this is just the actual machines where you plug the sample in and in 45 minutes it computes a positive or a negative, so we’re going to buy more machines and then you also have just the swab.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (16:35)
First it starts with a swab, swabbing your nose and your throat. Then you put it in the machine. The machine computes positive or negative, but then there’s a series of scientific steps that go after that. Obviously, we defer to the medical professionals there. There are pieces along this supply chain that the medical research and development command are going to help procure to increase capacity. As Secretary Esper said the other day, the Department of Defense will over and above taking care of the force to be able to support the civilian population. It’s as much as increasing our stocks as well as supporting from a national perspective. Do you want to add anything there?
Speaker 5: (17:10)
How long is it going to take until you get to 16,000 per day ballpark?
General Dingle: (17:13)
It depends, and hopefully within the next three weeks. However, we currently have the capability at nine medical centers. Those nine medical centers, we are adding the increased capability by adding a kit to it or a fusion piece to it. That’s going to increase output tremendously. Then in addition to that, we have our small medical treatment facilities that we’re looking at expanding and getting that capability there, also. Hopefully within the next 30 days we’ll have that also.
Speaker 3: (17:40)
Right, so we’re going to go on the phone lines. We’ve got Ashley [Rochi 00:17:43] From Jane’s. Ashley?
Yes. Hi, thank you guys for doing this. I had a two-part question. One I wanted to hear what impact you’re hearing from industry that the current crisis is going to impact the manufacturing and production lines, challenges, concerns, delays, and then also today after the White House press conference, it’s still unclear if the president has invoked the Defense Production Act. However, are you in discussions with the Defense Industrial Base producing medical equipment at this time?
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (18:14)
You asked a couple of questions there. We’re working with the Defense Industrial Base as well as Congress about the funding as well as just the increase of capability. That’s everything from just procuring to continue the development of weapons systems that we have on contracts. How can you work out contractually? Some states are not going back to work like Pennsylvania and some others. We’re working through issues there and I’ll have to work with States, potentially unions and others. That’s work that’s ongoing.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (18:45)
With respect to the Defense Production Act for medical supplies, those are conversations that are underway, but there’s elements of this where you can turn to a supplier and say, “Fill the orders for the materials associated for another manufacturer to make it at scale.” Then you can, then there’s actually the more extreme measure of turning to elements of American industry and asking them to make a product specific. They’re going through a lot of the administrative work associated with that and when you’ll hear a lot more here soon.
Speaker 3: (19:18)
Okay, so we’re going to go to David Martin.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (19:20)
Is he on the phone?
Speaker 3: (19:21)
David, yes sir.
Yeah. Two separate questions. One, if you’ve stopped virtual recruiting, how close are you to stopping basic training? I’m sorry. If you stopped, if you’ve closed your recruiting stations, how close are you to stopping basic training? Two, in the timeline that was just described for New York in terms of renovating these existing buildings, what, how many days are we talking about before a contract is left to a contractor to do the actual work and the work begins?
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (20:06)
Well, let me take the first one on basic training or initial military training. We are continuing to send soldiers to initial military training. We have put extensive procedures in place. It starts at the state and does an assessment of where the state is as far as the COVID-19 virus. They are screened in the state. Then they move to the military entrance processing centers and again, they are screened there again, making sure there’s no issues. Then they move to the sites where we actually conduct initial military training. They are screened there again. They go into what we would call a quarantine, even though they’re showing those signs to make sure there’s no issues. Then they begin initial military training and we have reduced the numbers. We’re running about 50%. we just ran a test of that. We identified six recruits that had some type of possible symptoms and we’ve taken the appropriate measures to make sure that they’re being taken care of for their health and welfare.
Speaker 3: (21:11)
We’ll open it to General [inaudible 00:21:12].
Chief of Corps of Engineers Todd Semonite: (21:14)
To answer your question right now, with help from the HHS, we’re calculating what the curves are when they go exponential in all of these key cities. We can’t do everywhere, so we’re really asking for the federal government to be able to help prioritize our efforts with FEMA to be able to send us to the right place. This has to be weeks. This can’t be months. It’s going to go in and like I said, it’s going to be the good enough solution to be able to do this and it’s all going to be working concurrently. We’d like to think that we can do this in three to four weeks and try to go as fast as we can. Now, here’s the big thing though.
Chief of Corps of Engineers Todd Semonite: (21:43)
What we want to do is we want to have a standard contract. We’re already designing these contracts right now. We’re already talking to industry. President Trump said yesterday on TV, “When things get going tough in America, everybody rallies.” This is when the contractor base … We need our engineering contractors to be able to step up, the hotel industry to be able to step up. Here’s the real core, the critical power in this idea. What we want to do is be able to give our products to states and if states want to do this on their own and contract by themselves, we’re giving you something that is a HHS validated concept and you don’t have to wait on the Corps of Engineers. You can do this independently, even to the point where go back and be able to try to secure that money through FEMA. This goes back to where we need everybody going full bore to be able to figure out where is that bed space capacity delta there, and then how can everybody pulled together to be able to make this happen?
Speaker 3: (22:33)
Okay, so we’re going to do two up. Phil, go first and then Jennifer and then we’ll go on the line.
Speaker 6: (22:35)
A quick one on the recruiting stations. What kind of impact do you think that closing the recruiting stations is going to have? Is it going to drive down recruiting pretty dramatically? Do you have any sense of what impact that might have on you all? Secondly, on this whole issue of, of trying to separate, isolate folks who may or may not have the coronavirus at these military facilities on all these bases, these aren’t zero pressure rooms, right, or negative pressure rooms? I forgot the right terminology. What are you doing in those situations to make sure that people who may or may not have it aren’t spreading it through the HVAC system to everybody else in that building?
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (23:14)
I’ll take the first one, Phil, and then I think either General Dingle or General Flynn can answer your second one. It’s all going to depend on duration. We’re looking at this really hard over the next 15 days. We’re looking every day to what the experts are learning. Is this going to be a seasonal flu and then potentially boomerang in the late fall? We’re learning every day about this right now. It’s a tactical, almost pause. I think when you look at how we’re approaching this, we’ve had a margin in our recruiting numbers this year, so we’re doing very well and that, knock on wood as I say that, but it’s just all going to depend on duration. Where will we be in a month? We’re going to watch this every day and see whether or not we can make an adjustment here downstream. Did you want to add anything?
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (24:03)
I just want to add, one thing that we’re doing. Some of these young men and women who have signed up for the military were expecting to maybe ship in the next couple of weeks, and maybe because of the state they’re in or they won’t be able to do that. What we’re looking to do for them, if they’re unable to ship because of this health risk, we’ll bring them on the payroll so to speak. We’re actually bringing them on active duty. They can stay and get ready in their community. Then once the situation is much better, they’ll have a chance to ship.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (24:29)
It’s just an adjustment really. They’re still going to have heavy engagement on the digital space. Anything you want to add about how we’re managing people?
Charlie Flynn, Director of Operations and Strategi: (24:38)
A two-part response here, so I’ll just talk about the quarantine part. We’ve set up, as I said, actually the senior commanders have locations on their installations where they can quarantine, and in that quarantine … If you’re not symptomatic, let’s just say you came back from a deployment from a level three country. You go to that quarantine space. You have no symptoms. We keep them quarantined. They go to a mess hall. They just stay together as a group. If they begin to exhibit symptoms because we test them each day… Not test them. We test them, Hey, “How you feeling? What’s your temperature?” Then they go into isolation. I’ll let Scotty talk about that here in a minute and then if testing positive, then there’s something else.
Charlie Flynn, Director of Operations and Strategi: (25:26)
Now back to the quarantine part. If they have no symptoms after 12 days, we’re going to take a test. Then on the 13th day or the 14th day when it comes back, if they show they’re not COVID positive, then they go home. If they’re COVID positive, then I’m going to turn it over to the surgeon. He’ll let you know what they do with somebody who’s positive.
General Dingle: (25:49)
Then simply that person will be taken by the military treatment facility and then put in isolation. For those installations that do not have the holding capability, obviously we are linked with the local civilian hospital also.
Speaker 8: (26:09)
Can I have you talk about the situation at Fort Bliss. We were hearing some reports that the soldiers themselves who had returned from overseas deployment felt that their quarantine was draconian. Has that been alleviated? What were the actual, what was the truth in terms of the conditions and what’s changed?
Charlie Flynn, Director of Operations and Strategi: (26:28)
Nobody better than this guy.
Speaker 7: (26:29)
Good one. A great question for the SAR major. First, I do want to say how proud I am of the United States Army. Yeah, great soldiers all around the world every day come in protecting not only you know, American citizens, but protecting each other. First and foremost, we’re going to protect the force. They come back from deployment and we’ve gotten used to, “I come back from deployment, I had this big ceremony, my family was there.”
Speaker 7: (26:55)
We’re in unprecedented times that we got to learn from this. We can’t just do what we’d done in the past and I think we need some time to get through that to say, “Yeah, we’re learning as we go. Just like our nation is learning every day on how we need to do this.” We’re going to look into that and make sure that we’re following the guidelines that we get everybody together, we don’t go over overboard with our extreme measures, but we have to learn and get through this because we have an obligation to protect the force of the United States soldiers and the citizens. That’s what we’re doing and we’re going to get through this.
Speaker 8: (27:31)
Sorry, but what about the specific case at Fort Bliss? They said there were three to the bunks. They weren’t being given access to exercise. What’s the truth and what’s changed there?
Speaker 7: (27:41)
It’s like any good command. We’re going to investigate and see what’s going on in the command and say, “We’re going to look into this.” We have issues like we would have any other issues, that people bring these issues to us and we allow the senior mission commander to investigate those positions.
Speaker 8: (27:57)
You haven’t looked into it yet?
Speaker 7: (27:58)
Yes. The senior command is looking into that specific issue right now.
Speaker 8: (28:03)
Speaker 7: (28:03)
Speaker 7: (28:03)
… is looking into that specific issue right now.
Speaker 9: (28:03)
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (28:04)
When we get information, the commander will pass that along.
Speaker 9: (28:07)
Another question. The cadets at West Point, do you expect them to arrive on campus in the fall and to be on campus, or will it be a sort of e-learning situation?
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (28:20)
I think it’s too early to say. We’ll know a lot more here shortly. We’ve been working through the issue, just getting that senior class out and getting them to the force is what we’ve been really keenly focused on right now.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (28:33)
Like the question earlier that [Phil 00:28:35] had, we’re looking at the movements of every soldier in the force, and looking at just how safely we can get them from A to B so they can continue to move down the path.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (28:44)
To the point the chief made earlier about this tranche of soldiers that went through MEPS and showed up at our installations just yesterday, you had what, four or six of them that we-
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (28:52)
There was six that we identified.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (28:53)
There were six that had COVID symptoms. Immediately isolated them. We are that focused on recruiting ROTC, and, obviously, West Point, because the force generation is just so important.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (29:07)
Right now, just looking at, how do we get those thousand out of there in May and get them down to their BOLC training, as well as the ROTC cadets as well?
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (29:14)
Much is going to be assessment. Right now, as I think you know, we do an online training for West Point cadets. We’re at that the position right now. Then we’re going to do, every two weeks take a look. Ideally, in a perfect world, if this does crest and come down, we’d like to bring the seniors back for graduation, have them a chance to leave. We’re going to wait and see and make sure the conditions are safe before we do that.
Speaker 10: (29:36)
Okay. We’re going to go to the line real quick. We have Terace from Newsy.
Terace Garnier: (29:42)
Hello. This is Terace Garnier. I know that there was a ban on the public graduations to protect the trainees and their family members. I spoke to a lot of families, and they were really distraught about this. What are you doing to try to boost the morale for those trainees who are coming in and those who are about to graduate, as well as their families?
Terace Garnier: (30:04)
Also, is it possible to make it mandatory that family members of service members be tested for coronavirus to protect that service member, even if they don’t have symptoms of the coronavirus?
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (30:19)
I’ll take the graduation. This is one of those things that … We’re putting some pretty tough procedures in place, as we talked to General Abrams and we talked to General Cloutier, that were very successful. If we don’t change our behavior and we put a large amount of people together before we have the requisite amount of testing, we’re going to have a lot rougher situations.
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (30:43)
We want to make sure that we’re protecting the families and the soldiers. Really, I know they’re disappointed about not having a graduation, but we want to make sure that they leave our training in a safe manner. Do you want to add anything else, Major? Or …
General Dingle: (31:02)
Can I do the second part?
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (31:03)
Okay. You want to do the second part? Okay. Got anything? Okay. I’ll let you take that one.
General Dingle: (31:07)
Then, real quick, based on the assessment, decision is made. We then would look at following, again, the CDC protocols first, but then what is best to protect those family members as well as the soldiers. Then we make a decision, reference the testing.
Speaker 10: (31:24)
Okay. Let’s go to [Sylvie 00:31:25] on the line. Sylvie? Okay. We’re going to go to [Tara 00:31:33].
Thank you very much. A bunch of questions on the hotel rooms. How many rooms total do we anticipate being converted in New York? Then, what sort of plans are there for, potentially, Washington State or California, both of which are been pretty hard hit? Then, if you could walk us through, how do you actually make a room a negative pressure room? Then, lastly, for Secretary McCarthy, just, are you feeling okay? There was a few sniffles there at the beginning.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (32:08)
Let me start with that one. I’m fine. I have exhibited no symptoms. Every time we walk in the office they check our temperature, and we wash our hands.
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (32:17)
I’m six feet from …
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (32:19)
He’s six feet from me.
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (32:21)
That’s why, if you watch me, I moved my position.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (32:23)
We’re not getting a lot of sleep, but other than that, I’m doing well. Thank you for asking, though.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (32:29)
One thing I would ask, just comment, before General Semonite chimes in, it’s important to understand that they have to put together a concept to triage large volumes of potential patients. Somebody can come up to the front door and they could say, “I don’t feel … ”
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (32:46)
I went to Belvoir on Wednesday. I was at Walter Reed this morning, just looking at the procedures that are put in place. You’ve got an E4, young enlisted soldier, right there, and ask three or four questions. Then they go through this decision tree. “I’ve hurt my ankle falling down the stairs,” “Pregnancy,” “Maybe COVID,” “Maybe just the flu.” This is the way to triage this large scale.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (33:09)
We helped put concepts in place for the states that, ultimately, would it require federal support? Probably, but it’s just a matter of what, because people are asking, what hospital, that … A lot of this is, just, conceptually, how would you put it in place?
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (33:24)
A lot of that has to do with the comments to General Semonite I made earlier. What are the trends? How many people? In many cases, a lot of these folks that come into the hospital, they get medication, they go home. They’re not necessarily required to stay overnight at a hospital.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (33:40)
A lot of that is just, conceptually, how are you going to screen large scale? Hospitals like St. Vincent’s probably aren’t used to hundreds of people showing up. That’s how where we can help just think through the problem with a systems engineering approach, and then ultimately apply more resources as needed.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (33:55)
General Semonite? Anything you want to add?
Chief of Corps of Engineers Todd Semonite: (33:57)
You asked about numbers. Every state I’m sure is right in the process of trying to figure this out. That’s why the secretary talked about talking to these governors and trying to get this. We don’t know exactly what they are.
Chief of Corps of Engineers Todd Semonite: (34:07)
The main thing is, there’s really two variables we’re looking at. We’re looking at is, what is the the slope of the curve of how many people are getting sick? Then, what is the shortage of actual beds in that particular city? You might have a city with … There’s one I won’t mention, but that’s actually got a pretty high slope of a curve, but, they’ve got an awful lot of brand new hospitals. They’ve got pretty good capability to be able to do that.
Chief of Corps of Engineers Todd Semonite: (34:27)
The other thing I didn’t talk about a lot of detail was this idea of the big concept. We want to try to go into the hotel dormitory, but we do have the ability to go in and do a convention center that’s a little bit easier to do, but it’s not quite the same level of care that we really want to do. We want to do this right and do this deliberate.
Chief of Corps of Engineers Todd Semonite: (34:43)
This goes back to, again, we can’t do everything. We’ve got to somewhere be able to draw the line. The more that the states can figure how to do this by themselves, then that takes so much more burden off so then we can be asked to go into those states that maybe don’t have that capacity.
I know that you can’t give us specific numbers, but at least for New York, where you were there on the ground, have you gotten an indication? Are you talking about hundreds of rooms you’re converting? Thousands of rooms?
Chief of Corps of Engineers Todd Semonite: (35:07)
We’re talking about over 10,000 that we are looking at right now. We need to send that up, and, in fairness to the state of New York, that is not my decision. That has to go to FEMA. FEMA has to make a decision of, what is that allocation? Then we will exercise whatever FEMA tasks us to do.
Then, lastly, how do you convert a room to negative pressure?
Chief of Corps of Engineers Todd Semonite: (35:25)
I’m going to make it super simple. It’s actually the little tiny unit. That’s why we like hotel rooms. Almost every hotel room has a little tiny unit back in the corner, and actually it is self contained for that particular room. Actually we want to bring the pressure down two or three PSI. You actually adjust that unit to be able to suck more air down through the bathroom vent to be able to have a negative pressure.
Chief of Corps of Engineers Todd Semonite: (35:45)
On the door you put a great big piece of plastic with a zipper on, so you zip in, you go into the room. We can go into more details, but I don’t want to bore you. It’s a relatively simple process. If we can’t use the existing unit, we’re going to rip it out and put another one back in that is a higher pressure. We’re trying to suck the air down so we have a negative pressure.
Speaker 10: (36:03)
Okay. Tara, before you ask another question, I’m going to go to Kim.
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (36:05)
Learn something every day. All right.
Because I have two-
Speaker 10: (36:07)
I said Kim. Sorry, [Fred 00:36:08], Kim.
I thought you said Tom.
Speaker 10: (36:09)
Sorry, Tom. Kim.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (36:10)
We won’t leave without you.
Kim Dozier: (36:12)
Sorry. Kim Dozier with Time. I wanted to ask how you’re protecting the troops in DOD, civilians in active conflict zones like Iraq and Afghanistan. How is that affecting operations? How can you do by, with, and through at a distance of six feet?
Kim Dozier: (36:27)
Then the policy question is, how much was the shrinking of the footprint in Iraq post Soleimani COVID-19, and what is that doing to things like watching Iranian activity in southern Syria, protecting the oil fields?
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (36:43)
In fact I talked to General Miller this morning just to get a sense of what’s going on in Afghanistan. He’s dealing, really, the same issue that all commanders are dealing … He’s got a combat mission going on right now, and, as you said, they’re advising and assisting. He also wants to protect the force. What he’s taking a look at is the criticality of each mission. They are doing the things that we talked about. They’re screening, they’re washing their hands, they are using social distance, which, quite funny, does work. As we looked at Korea, a lot of people think it’s that you’re kidding around. If you stay six feet away, people aren’t spreading germs, and you’re washing your hands, that does work.
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (37:21)
What he is doing is taking a look at the missions that he’s getting, in putting those missions. Also as we send troops into the region, we are quarantining them. We’re bringing some troops in as they come into the region. If that mission was essential, we’re doing a risk assessment on them, process them through one of the countries before they get to Afghanistan, and making sure that they have no issues with the virus.
Speaker 10: (37:49)
Okay. We’ll go to Tom.
Kim Dozier: (37:50)
Sorry, that all applied to Syria COVID-19. How much is the shrinking of the footprint in Iraq due to what was already going on with Soleimani and Iraqi anger over US strikes against Iranian proxies, and how much was COVID-19?
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (38:08)
With Pat White, he’s doing the same thing. He’s taking a look at how he works with the Iraqis. The mission continues there. At the same time, he’s trying to protect the force.
Kim Dozier: (38:19)
Does that pullback affect watching Iranian activity in the south or protecting those oil fields? Does that mission continue?
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (38:26)
I think right now in many of these countries, is, they’re very concerned about this virus also. In Iraq, in Afghanistan, certainly in Iran, I think this virus is a serious concern for all. That’s affecting everyone’s operations.
Kim Dozier: (38:44)
Even Iranian proxy activity in southern Syria?
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (38:48)
I probably wouldn’t be able to explain it. I’d probably defer that question.
Speaker 10: (38:51)
Thanks. I had a few questions, gentlemen. One is, have military services for funerals been suspended? The second question is, you talked about the bubble earlier, I think it was you, General, talked about the bubble.
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (39:04)
How far back do you, sir, maybe have to envision for troops that were in tier three countries like Italy and South Korea? If they left in December, is there a concern that they may be carriers, that type of thing?
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (39:23)
We’ve brought people back from Korea. We brought a whole brigade back. Then that was just recently, probably January, February timeframe, from the 1st Cavalry Division. They went through that process, and so far so good.
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (39:36)
That bubble … That’s what General Abrams really did. For some others it was pretty draconian, because when you went somewhere, when you came on, in a way you were asked questions, your temperature. If you were to come on the military installations, your temperature was taken, you were asked questions, you were screened. As soon as there were any type issues, you went into some type of quarantine. That’s how you prevent the spreading.
For Korea … Then I do have that other question. I think the first announced case was on January 20th. If troops came back before that, were they retroactively screened?
Charlie Flynn, Director of Operations and Strategi: (40:14)
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (40:14)
No. I don’t …
Charlie Flynn, Director of Operations and Strategi: (40:14)
They were not … Let me … At that particular point, they were not designated as a level three country. When they went to level three, everything that arrived after that went to screening.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (40:25)
The 14th, if I recall.
Charlie Flynn, Director of Operations and Strategi: (40:27)
Both the chief and secretary, I think the important point is … Because they identified a certain time on the ground in both Korea and Italy, those commanders, General Abrams and General Cloutier, and, prior to that, because they saw trends going in a bad direction, they basically put a seal around their installations and their families. That’s why those outcomes have been so positive for them.
Thank you. Yeah. My other question was, sir …
Speaker 7: (40:56)
On the funerals here in the national capitol region for the old guard, we’ve reduced some of the footprint. Is, they’re not going to have the escorts. There won’t be a large formation for those that are authorized an escort. But, they’re still doing what we would say full honors. We’re just using the same criteria we use for everybody else, just keep your distance and respect our fallen.
Speaker 10: (41:21)
Okay. We’re going to go on the phone. We have [Haley 00:41:22] on the line.
Yes, thank you. I’m wondering how these requirements, things like social distancing and keeping soldiers separated, are being balanced with readiness requirements. What kind of instruction is being passed down to some of the lower echelon commanders about their responsibilities to have their units at a certain readiness level? How that’s being balanced with protecting soldiers in the things that may require them to have close contact.
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (41:55)
Yeah, we’ve had that discussion. In fact, I was just discussing that with the FORSCOM commander, and getting to-
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (42:03)
The FORSCOM commander and getting to, you know there’s some things that we can do as far as training where we have small amounts of soldiers that continue to train. We want small amounts. If you take the squad, a lot of times when squads are training, it’s a five meter distance, the way they move and maneuver, so they could continue to train and have that social distance. What we don’t want people doing is having large formations. What we don’t want people doing is putting large amount of soldiers maybe into an auditorium for training where there’s a much greater chance to spread. But soldiers could still go to the field, soldiers could still train, but we are recommending highly that they keep that social distance and then take a look at what the soldier’s mission is.
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (42:47)
There’s certain soldiers we know have critical missions coming up. They’re combat missions. They need to be ready to do that. And that is the risks of the missions. So they know they need to continue to train. If they have other soldiers that the mission isn’t so essential, they can take the proper measures to account for that.
Speaker 11: (43:05)
Okay. So, we get Laura on the line and we’ll do one more in person question. So, Laura.
Hi. Can you hear me okay?
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (43:14)
Yeah. Yeah, sure. Go ahead.
Great. Awesome. So I’m just wondering if you can tell me if you’re thinking at all about graduating any medics early to try and help alleviate pressure on the civilian hospitals. Are you looking at that possibility?
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (43:34)
Well, right now we’re not. We think it’s very important that our medics are trained if they’re going to help out. And then just one thing as far as our whole medical community, and General Daniel is here. But we’ve told him, the guidance we’ve given him is throughout the entire medical community, is they’re going to be engaged in combating this virus. And it could be if they are in the Reserves, they may be operating in their civilian capacities, or they’ll be operating at our medical treatment facilities. They’ll be deployed in combat or they’ll be composing our hospitals that are requested. But every single medical professional in the United States Army is going to be engaging in this endeavor in some way.
Speaker 11: (44:24)
Okay. So we have time for one more. Courtney [Anagonye 00:44:23].
I have about five. Let’s see, for the secretary and the chief. That’s what you get when you would call on me last. Secretary and the chief, you put the CSH in a field hospital and prepare to deploy orders earlier this week. Have they been assigned to go anywhere and are there any other medical units or anyone who’s been on prepare to deploy as well?
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (44:44)
Yeah, I’ll take that because I talked about that yesterday. We talked about the 47th combat support hospital out of Fort Lewis. We also talked about the hospital out of Fort Campbell. Those were the two that were given what we call prepare to deploy order. We’ve also really given a warning order to all our Role 3 hospitals. And what we’re doing is we’re taking a look at them and saying, “Okay.” The one one that we talked about at Fort Lewis, we may not end up, if we do get an order to deploy, that may not be the one we deploy because it really depends on we don’t have an exact place to go, but because they’re sitting at Joint Base Lewis-McCord in Washington right now, those hospitals actually working, they are in the area. They work in clinics, they work in the hospital.
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (45:29)
So, what we’ve asked the Surgeon General, he can talk a little more about this, is as we stand up these hospitals, we say, “Hey, what’s the impact on the community if we take these people out of the hospital,” because they have, I don’t want to say they have a day job, but they do normal medical care during the day. It’s the same thing with our Reserves and the National Guard. We canceled a combat training center rotation for the 81st striker brigade combat team because that’s the National Guard brigade from Washington and really the soldiers come from Washington and California. And we’re anticipating that the governors may need them. So we don’t want to take them to the combat training center when we think they need to be used in the community. And the same thing with the doctors, nurses and the rest of folks. You want to add anything to that?
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (46:15)
While he’s coming up, the thing I get back to again is just the concept that’s put in place for how they’re going to conduct the healthcare continuum from screening all the way through to recovery. So ultimately those will be how the sourcing solutions come forward. Those hospitals you reference, those are for trauma. So would they be used just for trauma patients because people are going to get into car accidents, things are going to happen over and above COVID-19, or do we change the task organization of that hospital with personnel, numbers of beds. So things could potentially change ultimately from the work really that these three guys are doing in planning and ultimately offering up concepts to FEMA and then ultimately work with the states. General?
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (46:58)
Yeah. I want to jump on that because we can ask the questions. You’ve got a CSH, you’ve got a field hospital, how many beds, and we give you that. That’s probably not how we’re going to do it because we look at some of these field hospital, they’re tents. And that may not be the best place. We’re the United States. We’ve got hotels, we’ve got dormitories. We could do much better care, and maybe they occupy that building if they had to do it. So what we’re looking for is, hey, here’s the capabilities we have and then working with this team right here to get the right people in the right place at the right time. If you want to …
Speaker 12: (47:31)
Just hurry up. We’ve got four more minutes.
General Dingle: (47:32)
Just real quick.
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (47:32)
We’re going to run out of time.
General Dingle: (47:34)
A multi compo approach to it because we know that if we pull one, that’s going to impact either the civilian sector or our military medical treatment facility. So we’re doing a comprehensive analysis to make sure we get it right and don’t break something.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (47:47)
So you guys all appreciate that. It’s like a Jenga puzzle. They’re doing things locally. And if you extract doctors from Fort Belvoir to go to New York, what does that do to Fort Belvoir? So, the rigor for the sourcing solutions are more unique than what we’ve seen before. Because we go to the Middle East, we come home, it’s not as linear of a problem set. The complexity, because it’s right here at home and they do things at home over and above deploying with unit X or Y. So that when you … I know you’re all going to want to know what units are going to be going here and there. Ultimately that’s why you see a greater level of rigor than you would see under a normal condition.
So it’s fair to say that every medical unit in the US Army is on a warning order right now to potentially prepare to deploy?
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (48:30)
Well, it depends on, I mean-
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (48:32)
Well, not deploy.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (48:32)
I mean, we’ve got 191,000 people deployed. They’re working on everything.
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (48:36)
What I would say is every unit in the United States Army medical has been told to take a look at their capabilities and capacity so they can come back to us, so when someone says, “Hey, we need a field hospital,” and I look at it and you have this many people from this post, this many people from that post, what are those doctors doing at Madigan that’s going to fill that? Hey, if we pull this person out to go to this field hospital, we just took down this capability there. So what we want to do, especially for the Reserves, because we’re assuming most of those doctors, those nurses, that’s probably what they’re doing in real life when they’re not in the Reserves.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (49:11)
Comprehensive inventory. Come on, keep going.
And then General Semonite, can you tell us on the money that, how much money did FEMA give Corps of Engineers on Tuesday? Have there been any other allocations since Tuesday? How many facilities does it include? Can you give us the hard stats out of what they, FEMA did-
Chief of Corps of Engineers Todd Semonite: (49:29)
So I’m going to keep this really short. The Secretary has asking me to be available next week to be able to do a facility only press conference and I can ask her more of these questions there. FEMA gave us $1 million but they basically said whatever you need, you keep coming back for the planning piece. So that’s why we’re in states right now doing all the planning. The only actual list I have today is of New York, but that’s why these states are coming back. And once I know more, then I’ll lay all this out for you. Where’s the buildings, how many facilities and what’s this look like?
How many facilities do you have right now that are being hosted?
Chief of Corps of Engineers Todd Semonite: (49:53)
Right now, 12 facilities that we’re working at today. They’ll be done by today, 12.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (49:58)
What else you got?
That’s okay. Someone else can …
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (50:00)
Speaker 13: (50:01)
General Semonite, just one quick one. I know this is the Army leadership in formation, but I wondering, are you coordinating with the other services? I’m thinking of the CBs. Are you working with them? Could they get out there with bags and nails?
Chief of Corps of Engineers Todd Semonite: (50:13)
We definitely are when it comes to DOD missions. I basically do most of my work in this lane under FEMA where some of the other services don’t have that, so while the other services could certainly do things on military installations, when it comes to FEMA missions, I basically do that with a core of engineers only.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (50:29)
Once the concepts are firm, then you reach into what types of capabilities you’re going to be using.
Speaker 11: (50:37)
So, do you want to call it?
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (50:38)
Anybody else? Okay, last one.
Speaker 14: (50:42)
Real quick. What is a reasonable expectation if a soldier comes in and wants a COVID test? How long should it take for him to get a, or her to get a response back? And then, hey real quick, before you said that all the folks who tested positive were going into these zero pressure rooms. The people who are fine were in normal barracks. What about the people who are presumptives? Are they going to zero pressure rooms or are they in barracks with nobody else?
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (51:04)
Look, I think a lot of this is just how extreme. Some people are going home and they’re going into quarantine, self quarantine. So not everybody is required for that level of care. I mean General Dingle, do you want to jump in here?
General Dingle: (51:17)
You hit it. You’re spot on. Yeah, it’s based on the condition of that soldier. You get some will just be sniffles and going through it light. Others will be more severe-
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (51:27)
General Dingle: (51:27)
… that will require hospitalization. It depends on the condition of the soldier.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (51:31)
Speaker 15: (51:33)
Do you know if there are soldiers on respirators or in ICUs, sir?
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (51:35)
That’s a HIPAA thing. I don’t think we’re allowed to really talk about it.
Speaker 15: (51:37)
Actually the president said that he’s-
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (51:39)
I’m cautious. The lawyers told me to be cautious with that.
Speaker 15: (51:43)
We’re not asking for names. We’re just asking if there are any people on-
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (51:46)
What’s that? We do not is what he said.
Speaker 16: (51:49)
Can we ask what other states have asked for the hospital plan?
Chief of Corps of Engineers Todd Semonite: (51:56)
It’s too long a list right now. I can lay that out. I’m in the process of making a matrix of all 50 states. The territories as well. Who are we talking to? What do we think the requirement is? We just aren’t there yet. We’re getting all of this stuff in every single day. We’re looking very hard at California, the state of Washington. We’ve already been to New Jersey and we’re working our way around the states that are coming back and we’re really looking at where’s the biggest demand so we go to those states first.
Speaker 11: (52:18)
And we’ll be able to give you more of a comprehensive lay down next week and then start over to you for closing.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (52:23)
As I stated at the start, we’re going to come down here routinely and tell you about our progress, about the health of the force and just what we’re learning from day to day. But these are a very extraordinary set of circumstances. The thing that resonates the most to me is just a 24 hour news cycle and it’s affecting us here at home. These guys are working 14 hours a day and then they go home and their families, you know they’re answering questions. So people are working really hard, but a really unique set of circumstances. I think you all feel it too. And just take care of yourselves. Okay. And I feel like I may be taking a question two on my way out here and then we’ve got to get back up there. Okay?
Chief of Staff, General James McConville: (53:04)
Yeah, just one closing thing. As the Secretary said, we have about 190,000 soldiers around the world, but the real heroes in this fight, it’s going to be our doctors, our scientists, our nurses and our medical professionals. They’re on the front line of this thing and we got a chance to go up to Fort Dietrich and see what they’re doing. They’re really getting after it and we will prevail. So, thank you.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (53:25)
Do you have any other questions?
Speaker 17: (53:29)
No hand shaking.
Speaker 18: (53:30)
No hand shaking.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (53:30)
You asked about the Defense Production Act, right?
Speaker 19: (53:32)
No, that was somebody else.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (53:33)
Who was that that asked about the Defense Production Act?
Speaker 11: (53:35)
That was on the line.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (53:35)
So, the key to understanding, think MRAP 10 years ago. So, the problem with that, that was a very linear problem. You make steel, you give it to the [inaudible 00:11:46]. That was the complexity of that. The president has the Defense Production Act. Think of all of the different protective masks …
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy: (53:52)