Leaked Pentagon memo warns of ‘real possibility’ of COVID-19 resurgence, vaccine not coming until summer 2021

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The Defense Department should prepare to operate in a “globally-persistent” novel coronavirus (COVID-19) environment without an effective vaccine until “at least the summer of 2021,” according to a draft Pentagon memo obtained by Task & Purpose.

“We have a long path ahead, with the real possibility of a resurgence of COVID-19,” reads the memo, authored for Secretary of Defense Mark Esper but not yet bearing his signature.

“Therefore, we must now re-focus our attention on resuming critical missions, increasing levels of activity, and making necessary preparations should a significant resurgence of COVID-19 occur later this year.”

Despite its grim forecast, the draft document lays out a framework for the U.S. military’s proverbial reopening, which includes the resumption of training exercises, increased operational tempo, and the repositioning of forces and supplies to fight the global pandemic.

A Pentagon spokeswoman said the document was outdated but declined to provide more specifics.

The memo was prepared by Kenneth Rapuano, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security, and is intended to update previous guidance issued by Esper on April 1, 2020. It’s unclear if Esper has seen the memo.

The document has not been officially released, and could see changes since being circulated among the military services at the beginning of May for feedback, a defense official said on condition of anonymity. – READ MORE

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