Pentagon confirms first service member death linked to COVID-19

Posted at 8:47 AM, Mar 31, 2020

The Pentagon confirmed Monday that a national guardsman has died about a week after he had been diagnosed with COVID-19.

The New Jersey Army National Guardsman had been hospitalized since March 21. The guardsman is the first U.S. service member to die of the coronavirus.

"Today is a sad day for the Department of Defense as we have lost our first American service member – active, reserve or Guard – to Coronavirus," Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said in a statement. "This is a stinging loss for our military community, and our condolences go out to his family, friends, civilian co-workers and the entire National Guard community. The news of this loss strengthens our resolve to work ever more closely with our interagency partners to stop the spread of COVID-19."

Gen. Joseph Lengyel, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, identified the guardsmen as Army Capt. Douglas Linn Hickock, a physician assistant.

"Our thoughts are with his family & friends. All of us are likely to know people directly affected by this virus in the coming weeks," Lengyel tweeted. "As our nation fights its greatest challenge in recent memory, we're all going to need to draw on our inner strength & resilience to win this war & comfort those in pain. We must bring our best selves every day to overcome this as fast as possible for our great country."

According to CNN and CNBC, there are more than 1,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the Department of Defense. CNN reports that 600 of those cases are among military members.