A service member gets tested for COVID-19

Department of Defense Strategy for COVID-19 Testing and Surveillance

The Department of Defense will begin testing some asymptomatic service members as part of the next phase of its strategy to break the chain of coronavirus disease 2019 transmission and to protect the health of the force. The multipronged approach also calls for COVID-19 surveillance, contact tracing and restriction of movement.

The strategy includes the following tactics.

Screening, restriction of movement and asymptomatic testing

Regular viral testing can lead to early detection of COVID-19 and guide action to stop the spread. DOD components will continue screening service members for COVID-19 and restricting the movement of those who may have been exposed to the disease.

DOD components will test service members who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 in accordance with recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control.

Among those who will be tested are service members who are about to deploy or start training. Testing will be prioritized by tier and testing capacity:

  • Tier 1: Those involved in critical national capabilities will be tested first. 
  • Tier 2: Engaged fielded forces will be tested when Tier 1 has reached a steady state.
  • Tier 3: Forward deployed/redeployed forces will be tested when Tiers 1 and 2 have reached a steady state.

COVID-19 surveillance

A select number of other asymptomatic service members will also be tested for the disease:

  • Ten percent of active-duty clinical health care personnel
  • Ten percent of service members who live in congregate settings
  • One percent of service members in Tiers 1-4 will be tested every 14 days as testing resources increase

The Department of Defense will continue health surveillance using electronic databases and other public health tools to report test results and assess the threat of COVID-19. Those tested will receive their results.

Contact tracing, testing and restriction of movement

Contact tracers will reach out to individuals who have had contact with anyone who tests positive for COVID-19. Close contacts will be tested for COVID-19 whether or not they have symptoms of the disease. Quarantine measures will be implemented.

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, view the following sites:

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