U.S. DoD
COV-19 testing

Four-Tiered Plan for Screening COVID-19

April 28, 2020
The Department of Defense is moving to a three-tier testing program to overcome the COVID-19 coronavirus and ensure that troops can be most effective where needed.

The COVID-19 coronavirus has most of the world on some form of shutdown or at-home isolation to ease the spread of the disease. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has developed its own four-tiered testing program to battle the impact of the virus on American troops and civilian support agencies. The new approach moves the military from a diagnostic-only approach to dealing with the disease to a diagnostic-plus-screening policy, as outlined by U.S. Air Force General John E. Hyten and Deputy Defense Secretary David L. Norquist.

The change comes with the DoD’s increased capabilities to perform testing for COVID-19. Moving to a four-tier approach provides the highest priority to the highest-risk forces. The first tier applies to testing personnel in critical national events ranging in severity to a nuclear event. The second tier is for testing forces in the field around the world. The third tier includes testing forward-deployed or redeployed forces, while the fourth tier is for all other forces.

Testing has already begun for those in Tier 1 and it will increase as supplies become more available. Of course, testing is only part of the solution, as troops must also wear appropriate masks, wash hands with disinfectants and clean all workplaces. Forces are also using telecommunications networks when appropriate to achieve social distancing and eliminate transmission paths for the coronavirus where possible.

“We now have an estimated 970,000 active duty and civilian personnel teleworking with great success,” Norquist explained, adding that the Defense Finance and Accounting Service has 95% of its workforce teleworking. “Each month, DFAS makes over 5.8 million payments to civilians, active duty, reserve, National Guard and DOD retirees, but because they previously prepared for it and practice extensive telework, they're sustaining regular operations at full capacity.”

Many jobs cannot be phoned in, however, and the DoD is adapting to these changing work conditions to achieve the highest efficiency possible.

About the Author

Jack Browne | Technical Contributor

Jack Browne, Technical Contributor, has worked in technical publishing for over 30 years. He managed the content and production of three technical journals while at the American Institute of Physics, including Medical Physics and the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology. He has been a Publisher and Editor for Penton Media, started the firm’s Wireless Symposium & Exhibition trade show in 1993, and currently serves as Technical Contributor for that company's Microwaves & RF magazine. Browne, who holds a BS in Mathematics from City College of New York and BA degrees in English and Philosophy from Fordham University, is a member of the IEEE.

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