With COVID mission over, Pentagon plans for next pandemic | WTOP News
In the early days of the pandemic, the Pentagon steamed hospital ships to New York City and Los Angeles, and set up massive hospital facilities in convention centers and parking lots, in response to pleas from state government leaders. The idea was to use them to treat non-COVID-19 patients, allowing hospitals to focus on the more acute pandemic cases. But while images of the military ships were powerful, too often many beds went unused. Fewer patients needed non-coronavirus care than expected, and hospitals were still overwhelmed by the pandemic.
A more agile approach emerged: having military medical personnel step in for exhausted hospital staff members or work alongside them or in additional treatment areas in unused spaces.
“It morphed over time,” VanHerck, who heads U.S. Northern Command and is responsible for homeland defense, said of the response.
Overall, about 24,000 U.S. troops were deployed for the pandemic, including nearly 6,000 medical personnel to hospitals and 5,000 to help administer vaccines. Many did multiple tours. That mission is over, at least for now.