It’s time for an update on COVID-19 and the Navy. ComNavOps previously examined the issue and stated that COVID was not a threat to the Navy and extreme isolation measures were not needed (see, “COVID-19 and the Navy”).(1) This position was met with skepticism by readers, to put it mildly.
The best way to deal with COVID is to read and understand actual data rather than the fear-mongering press reports and government and CDC recommendations that are not based on science and data. In that vein, let’s get an update on COVID and the Navy/military.
As of 21-Apr-2021, the military, overall, has reported 185,259 cases of infection with 1,634 hospitalized (0.9% hospitalization rate) and 24 deaths.(2) That’s out of approximately 1.4M active duty personnel. The Navy accounts for 37,511 COVID cases of the 185,259 cases in the military.(2)
The 24 deaths out of 185,259 cases makes the overall military death rate from COVID around 0.01% among those infected. That’s as close to zero as you can get.
More sailors die from traffic accidents.
For comparison, the following table shows the number of deaths (all services combined) for a couple of selected non-COVID causes for the single year 2010.(4)
Cause of Death
Contrast those numbers for a one year period with the total of 24 deaths in the entire military over the year and a half that we’ve been dealing with COVID.
A sailor has a much higher chance of dying from some other disease than from COVID and yet we don’t take insane precautions for any of those illnesses.
On a related note, the Navy now has 145,939 people fully vaccinated and 69,711 partially vaccinated.
Do vaccinations work? The CDC reports 5800 verified cases of a vaccinated person being infected out of 77,000,000 people vaccinated.(3) That makes the vaccinated infection rate to be 0.0075% which is, for all practical purposes, zero.
At this point, some of you may be saying, okay ComNavOps, you were right way back at the start that COVID was not, and is not, a dire threat to service personnel but even one death is a tragedy and the military has an obligation to prevent all deaths. Well … that’s completely wrong.
Yes, every death is a tragedy for those it impacts but, no, the military does not have an obligation to prevent all deaths. If they did, they’d confine everyone to quarters, in total isolation, wrapped in bubble wrap, never venturing outside, never driving, and they’d administer full physicals every day. Of course, that’s ludicrous. Service and, indeed, life, involves a degree of risk. We take reasonable precautions where and when we can but we accept that risk and death are part of life.
Even routine civilian life involves risks of death that we routinely accept. For example, for the seven year period 2008-2015, there were 1,610 deaths due to animals, an average of 230/yr . Compare that number to the 24 military deaths in a year and a half. Interestingly, the majority of animal deaths, 57%, were from non-venomous animals.(4) So, should we kill all animals to prevent human deaths?
We see then, that the Navy is engaged in extraordinary measures to control a disease that among service personnel has a hospitalization rate of 0.9% and a death rate of 0.01%. The Navy loses far more personnel to other causes of death and yet takes only passing and reasonable precautions (I’m being generous – they take almost no precautions) against those. It is only ignorance, politics, fear-mongering, and political correctness that has caused the Navy to react in such an extreme manner to COVID. The science never supported such actions in the military’s service population.
My advice to the Navy – based on science and data – is drop the masks and get back to business as normal.
I'm going to moderate the comments for this post due the expected deluge of non-scientific, non-data based comments. We'll resume normal commenting on the next post.
Masks, by the way, do nothing. Report after report has demonstrated the ineffectiveness of masks. Empirical proof also demonstrates the uselessness of masks. If masks worked, COVID would have been gone long ago.
The only mask that offers any protection is the N95 and that offers only partial protection and then only if properly fitted, which almost never happens, and used by trained personnel, which is rare even in hospital settings. Surgical masks offer no protection and homemade masks are pointless.