Air Force Disputes Pentagon Report, Says No COVID-19 Cases in Space Force

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Gen. John "Jay" Raymond
The chief of Space Operations of U.S. Space Force and commander of U.S. Space Command, Air Force Gen. John W. Raymond, briefs from the Pentagon Press Briefing Room about COVID-19 on March 27, 2020. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

The Pentagon announced Monday that the newly launched Space Force had its first handful of COVID-19 cases. But the Air Force is now disputing that report, saying the number remains zero.

In the latest Pentagon data, which is published three times a week, officials said Monday that six Space Force members had tested positive for the virus.

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However, the Department of the Air Force, which oversees the newest military branch, said that is not accurate.

"At this time, none of the 88 uniformed members of the Space Force have tested positive for the coronavirus," an Air Force official told Military.com on Tuesday.

"We are working to clarify how COVID positive numbers for Department of the Air Force members at bases and units assigned to the United States Space Force will be reported to the Joint Staff," the official said.

It was not immediately clear how the miscommunication occurred. The Office of the Secretary of Defense referred all questions to the Air Force.

The Space Force currently has only 88 members. They include Gen. John "Jay" Raymond, the chief of space operations and head of U.S. Space Command; Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman, the senior enlisted adviser of the Space Force and command senior enlisted leader of Space Command; and 86 new lieutenants who graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in April.

The sixth military service, which was signed into existence by President Donald Trump on Dec. 20, 2019, is currently operating with the aid of 16,000 airmen detailed temporarily from what was formerly known as Air Force Space Command.

Officials have said that about 6,000 of those temporary personnel will be offered the opportunity to formally transfer into the Space Force by year's end.

Earlier this month, the service said that more than 8,500 active-duty airmen had volunteered to transfer into the branch.

Per the latest official tally, COVID cases continue to rise in the military.

The Pentagon on Monday said there were 655 new reported cases across all its service branches, to include the National Guard Bureau, since Friday.

The Navy continues to lead with 3,010 total cases. Meanwhile, the Army reported the most new COVID-positive members -- 261 -- in a four-day span, for a total of 2,803 cases.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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