US military is not conducting civilian coronavirus tests despite offering to more than a week ago

“We are not maxing our capacity in our labs around the world,” Joint Staff Surgeon Brig. Gen. Paul Friedrichs said at a Pentagon press conference Wednesday, adding that the Defense Department is currently operating 16 labs capable of conducting the test.

“We have not received an RFA, a request for assistance, from HHS that I’m aware of,” he said, referring to the Department of Health and Human Services.

“But we do have capacity in some of our labs. We’ve identified that to HHS,” he added.

HHS has not responded to a CNN request for comment.

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The lack of civilian testing by Defense Department labs comes more than a week after Esper said that he would make those labs available for such tests.

“The Department has made our 14 certified coronavirus testing labs available to test non DoD personnel as well and we will soon offer two additional labs for that purpose we hope this will provide excess capacity to the civilian population,” Esper said last week.

The Defense Department has since added two labs capable of performing the tests.

To date those 16 labs have only performed tests of military service members, their dependents and Defense Department civilians and defense contractors.

“We’ve tested a little bit more than 1,000 across DOD laboratories and have the capability to do way more than that,” US Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, the director of the Defense Health Agency, told reporters Thursday.

“We have the capability, if we had to — and — and right now, we haven’t — we have the capability to do tens of thousands per day,” he added.


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