15 Apr Over 3,000 Service Members Have Tested Positive For Coronavirus
Since Veterans Affairs leaders reported the first “coronavirus” death of a VA patient back in mid-March, the number of positive tests and fatalities in the department has drastically increased. As of April 7th, there have been 144 patients who have died from the virus. That number drastically increased from the week before. On March 30, the total was less than 20.
VA officials have not released the full details surrounding the deaths of these soldiers due to the coronavirus. The New Orleans VA announced that a patient in “their” 40’s died there on Sunday. No other information was given. Officials say the New Orleans VA Medical Center is one of the most-impacted facilities in the country.
Across all VA sites, 3,038 patients in VA care have tested positive for the virus. That’s about 11 percent of all of the cases tested by the department. That figure has nearly tripled in the last 10 days.
Officials recommend that any veteran with symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath should contact their local VA facility before visiting to determine their next steps. The VA wants to ensure your safety along with protecting their patients and employees.
In a statement, VA leaders have promised “an aggressive public health response to protect and care for veterans, their families, health care providers, and staff in the face of this emerging health risk.”
That includes working with the CDC and the possibility of accepting civilians to VA Hospitals to provide relief to the overwhelmed local health care systems.
On Sunday, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said during a White House briefing that he would open about 1,500 beds nationwide to communities in need of extra resources, despite the increasing coronavirus numbers within the VA health system.
“The 400,000 men and women of the Department of Veterans Affairs are in this fight.,” he said. “We are in the fight not only for the nine and a half million veterans who are part of our service, but we are in the fight for the people of the United States.”
VA officials have stated that accepting civilian patients will not affect the capability for the VA to deliver it’s normal services to veterans.