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 seven 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 seven have died. As the Military Times noted, though, hundreds of military veterans have been dying each month since the pandemic began.

One of Biden’s campaign aides told CNN that Biden misspoke. According to the aid, he was accidentally citing the COVID-19 data for Michigan, rather than military deaths from coronavirus. 

Biden’s Deputy Rapid Response Director Michael Gwin reiterated the mix-up in a statement to Fox News

“Vice President Biden has the utmost respect for the men and women of the armed services and believes it’s the sacred duty of our country to properly equip them, look after their families when they’re deployed, and care for them when they return,” Gwin said. “To honor their service, the vice president carries with him each day a card detailing the number of Americans who have given their lives for our country in Iraq and Afghanistan, and frequently cites that number to recognize their sacrifice.”

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

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