No, the coronavirus has not killed thousands of military members

Coronavirus military deaths
Photo via The U.S. Army/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

During a campaign speech in Warren, Michigan, on Sept. 9, Joe Biden incorrectly said 6,114 U.S. military members have died from COVID-19. In reality, only eight military deaths are attributed to the coronavirus.

While wrapping up a speech about manufacturing and union support, Biden shared that he carries a list of troops wounded or killed while abroad. 

“I carry a schedule in my pocket—a list—every single day of the number of troops lost in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Biden said. “The back of the schedule is always a black box. You cannot really see it. It says, ‘Daily U.S. Updates.'” 

Biden then began to read statistics about the number of U.S. military members who have died in the Middle East. He went on to state how many military members have died from COVID-19. 

“U.S. COVID-infected in America: 763,000,” said Biden, who recently released his own coronavirus pandemic plan. “U.S. COVID deaths: 176,000. U.S. Military infections: 117,000. Military deaths: 6,114. Every one of these lives matters.” 

Biden’s list dramatically differs from numbers published on the Department of Defense’s website. According to the DOD, 41,623 military members have been infected by the virus and just eight have perished, including a 48-year-old reservist from Kentucky who died in late September. As the Military Times noted, though, hundreds of military veterans have been dying each month since the pandemic began, and the U.S. Army said more soldiers have been committing suicide. In November, the number of VA patients with the coronavirus hit record levels for 10 straight days. That more than doubled the rates from the previous month.

On Oct. 13, Stars and Stripes reported that 22 troops had tested positive after flying from the U.S. to South Korea. The troops had been on four different flights in late September to early October.

There was also national concern after President Trump, the commander in chief, tested positive for COVID-19 in early October. A few days later, a senior Coast Guard official had tested positive, forcing many of the country’s top military leaders to self-quarantine.

At the end of October, it was reported that U.S. Forces Korea had ordered all troops to get their flu shots by Dec. 1. Though the flu vaccine won’t stop the coronavirus from infecting a person, COVID-19 symptoms could be lessened if the flu vaccine has already been administered.

Sources: C-SPAN, DOD, CNN, Fox News

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