US Defense Department Announces 1st Coronavirus Death

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Pennsylvania Air National Guard troops set up a coronavirus testing site
Pennsylvania National Guard troops stage their gear at Montgomery County's first mass coronavirus test center in Upper Dublin Township on March 20, 2020. (Will Acosta/Air National Guard)

A U.S. military contractor has died after contracting the novel coronavirus, officials with the Defense Department announced Sunday.

A Crystal City, Virginia-based contractor who worked at the Defense Security Cooperation Agency died March 21, according to a DoD release. DSCA provides assistance and resources to U.S. allies; its headquarters is inside the Pentagon.

"The individual had tested positive for COVID-19 and had been under medical treatment at a local hospital," officials said. "Our condolences go out to his family, friends and co-workers and we thank the medical professionals who worked to save his life in the face of this virus."

The contractor, who was not identified, was receiving hospital treatment at the time of his death.

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According to the release, the spaces where the deceased contractor worked were cleaned in keeping with guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when he first tested positive for coronavirus, also called COVID-19.

"The person's co-workers have been teleworking," officials said.

The tragic announcement comes a day after the Air Force confirmed that two personnel who had spent time in the Pentagon, an active-duty airman and a contractor, had both tested positive for the fast-spreading virus. The airman, who worked for the Defense Health Agency, had last been in the building March 16, officials said; the contractor had not been in since March 2, and had been self-quarantining since March 7.

On Sunday, the U.S. reported roughly 30,000 COVID-19 cases, though testing shortages mean the number is likely higher. To date, 377 people have died.

The Pentagon has also released updates every weekday on the number of military and DoD-connected personnel cases.

On Friday, there were 67 troops, 15 military civilians, 26 dependents and 16 DoD contractors with the virus. Five individuals have recovered, and eight cases have required hospitalization.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct where the Air Force personnel who tested positive for the virus worked.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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