Despite the Pentagon recently touting that across armed services and the DoD about 97-98% of all personnel have been fully vaccinated, there's been a new Covid outbreak among the highest ranks.
"Seven staffers who traveled with Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks last week tested positive for COVID-19, the Pentagon announced," according to The Hill. She's the second highest ranking Pentagon official in the United States government, and on that trip last week had traveled to several large US military bases.
Hicks herself has so far tested negative for Covid-19, according to a follow-up statement by Pentagon press secretary John Kirby. He said that contact tracing is still ongoing.
"We are also contacting hotels, bases and support personnel who may have come in contact with the traveling party," Kirby added. The high level nature of the delegation means that the infected staff members would have come into contact with top Generals and Colonels and other officers at multiple bases and command centers.
The Hill lists that the deputy Pentagon chief visited the following: "the Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Michigan, then traveled to Colorado to visit the U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Space Command, and the U.S. Space Force Space Training and Readiness Command."
"Hicks also visited the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii, the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado in California; and the U.S. Strategic Command in Nebraska."
The staff members who tested positive are currently in quarantine, with Kirby underscoring upon announcing the small outbreak that "We continue to treat the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 with utmost seriousness and care."
Meanwhile, the Army, Air Force, and Marines have begun the process for discharging hundreds of service members who failed to get vaccinated by their respective branch deadlines. "The Army said it has reprimanded more than 2,700 soldiers and will begin discharge proceedings in January, while the Air Force has discharged at least 27 members," NBC recently reported.
The Omicron variant has begun to appear within the US military...
NEW: More than 360,000 boosters doses or third doses have been given at DoD facilities: Pentagon official.— Jack Detsch (@JackDetsch) December 20, 2021
DoD has detected 10 cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant within the military health system so far, spokesman John Kirby said in emailed statement.
But the deeply awkward irony remains, underscored in these latest infections among the Pentagon's highest ranks: without doubt those officers and staffers traveling with Deputy Secretary Hicks were fully vaccinated - and possibly also had received the booster as well. And yet the vaccine did not prevent infection in these cases.