The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) will continue its work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the governors across the country to try to stay ahead of the pandemic, said Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper at a Pentagon news conference. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaking alongside Esper, said the military has been flexible in changing its responses to the needs of the various communities. Some 62,000 Service members are supporting the fight against COVID-19, with more than 3,500 DoD health care professionals working on the front lines of some of the hardest-hit areas, Esper said, adding that he will continue to assess the situation and tailor the DoD’s capabilities to what civilian agencies might need.
The U.S. Army is planning to use wearable COVID-19 monitors to detect whether its personnel are displaying symptoms. For this purpose, U.S. Army medical officials are asking the defense industry to develop prototypes of such wearable coronavirus monitors.
Confronted with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Army has temporarily stopped large-scale training exercises and enforced a large number of restrictions. While the Pentagon has implemented a wide range of policies and restrictions designed to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, the pandemic has still infected as much as 5,316 Service members, according to a May 11 slide briefing of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).
Developers from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) are collaborating with civilian partners to manufacture low-cost, emergency ventilators using 3-D printers.
The handheld gas ventilator, dubbed the Illinois RapidVent, is roughly the size of a water bottle. Due to its size and portability, the ventilator may also be ideal for soldiers in battle beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, said Tonghun Lee, a Champaign, Illinois-based ARL researcher.
The global pandemic is about to profoundly change the U.S. military’s role in defending the United States — even if Pentagon leaders don’t know it yet. As we noted in our last column, many Americans will look at the immeasurable damage wrought by the pandemic and conclude that defending the homeland from catastrophic threats is far more urgent than defending against foreign threats far from American shores. That fundamental shift is rapidly ushering in a new era for the Department of Defense, which will upend some of its bedrock assumptions about when, where, and how the U.S. military contributes to national security.
WASHINGTON — Hundreds of soldiers at Fort Benning are now getting their temperatures checked using the Army’s prototype targeting goggles. The Army made this latest modification in just 4 days to the rapidly-evolving Integrated Visual Augmentation System. This program shows how quickly the Army can innovate, but it also shows the limits of ad hoc solutions to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
ARLINGTON, VA – U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory scientists draw on their academic and industrial connections in the science and technology ecosystem to investigate the possibility of using light and radiation to decontaminate and sterilize areas exposed to the coronavirus.
The main objective of this effort is to explore whether exposure to electromagnetic (EM) energy can reduce the ability of the airborne coronavirus to infect. If so, the researchers believe they could use this knowledge to better protect military medical personnel working on the front lines of the pandemic.
What U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) efforts are ongoing to address the shortages of critical medical equipment due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
DSIAC staff collected information and the proper contacts related to several DoD initiatives addressing the production of PPE, respirators, ventilators, and other medical equipment in support of the COVID-19 pandemic response. Information and the pertinent contacts for two such initiatives were delivered to the DSIAC contact on the Task Force.
The U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center set up a COVID-19 Additive Manufacturing Rapid Response Team that is actively attempting to resolve issues with and coordinating efforts to additively manufacture face masks, respirators, and other medical equipment.
Similarly, the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) has been working with the Army Futures Command Combat Capabilities Development Command (AFC CCDC) and other institutes and members to develop a near-term strategy to quickly respond to the need for N95 respirators and surgical masks. The AFFOA is organizing their member companies to use current materials and processes to meet immediate demands, as well as using three-dimensional (3-D) knitting machines as an alternative to current processes for printing a finished fabric part. The institute is working with members to ramp up production of N95 respirators by identifying companies with melt-blown fabric lines that could be converted or retooled for production. They are also working with the Pennsylvania Fabric Discovery Center to develop knit mask designs that can be scaled at other facilities with knitting machines and with United States Forces Korea and the CCDC to help optimize N95 mask production via 3-D printing, among other alternatives.
What is the status of face masks utilizing copper mesh filtration systems?
DSIAC was asked about the development of tactical and surgical/medical reusable face masks that use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved copper mesh antimicrobial filters. DSIAC coordinated with the developer to obtain references on the effectiveness of the copper mesh, determine an estimate of production capability, and produce a white paper. DSIAC researched recent developments involving the use of copper and copper/silver, nanoparticle, embedded fabrics for antimicrobial purposes, as well as previous uses of and issues with silver, nanoparticle, and embedded fabrics. All materials were provided to an Information Analysis Center representative, the COVID-19 White House Task Force, and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Manufacturing Technology office.
Can short-wavelength ultraviolet (UV-C) lighting be used for antimicrobial decontamination of surfaces to mitigate the spread of COVID-19?
As part of further supporting the COVID-19 White House Task Force (WHTF), DSIAC reached out to a member of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) from RP Advanced Mobile Systems and received information on the FAA effort to study UV-C lighting as a possible antimicrobial solution for decontaminating aircraft cabin areas and laboratories. This included an FAA white paper assessing the viability of far-UV and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation using the UV-C spectrum as an effective, alternate cleansing way to eliminate COVID-19. Additionally, details on the effort, most-effective UV spectrum, commercial off-the-shelf light solutions, and an estimate of available lights were provided. An FAA Aerospace Medicine/Civil Aerospace Medical Institute COVID-19 working group has been formed, and a person of contact was given. This information was provided to the COVID-19 WHTF and Army Manufacturing Technology for review.
What are the best practices for mitigating viral spread and decontaminating nontraditionally-manufactured parts?
The United States is challenged with responding to the nation’s urgent need for more personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect citizens from the COVID-19 virus. The U.S. government has tasked a manufacturing panel on the White House’s COVID-19 task force to develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) for manufacturers, both large and small, to use in producing PPE with traditional and/or additive manufacturing processes. However, these SOPs must be developed to safely produce PPE that is sterilized and decontaminated to mitigate potential COVID-19 viral transmission during manufacturing.
DSIAC and the Homeland Defense & Security Information Analysis Center (HDIAC) were asked to rapidly respond to a set of specific questions that generally ask what processes, methods, and/or chemicals can be used during additive or traditional manufacturing of critical PPE to mitigate the spread of viral mitigation during production.
DSIAC and HDIAC reached out to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and commercial industry experts for input and compiled published information on best practices to prevent viral spread of COVID-19 through the supply chain process of additively- or traditionally-manufactured PPE. DSIAC and HDIAC subject matter experts (SMEs) provided responses and also contacted and gathered further SME inputs from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Center Chemical Biological Center, U.S. Army Test Evaluation Command Bio Test Division, U.S. Army ManTech, Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, America Makes, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Stratasys, SURVICE Engineering, Texas Research Institute Austin, and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. A detailed technical response report was generated and delivered to the inquirer in less than 2 days.
As a result of the approach, the manufacturing panel on the White House’s COVID-19 task force was able to develop SOPs for manufacturers to use in producing critical PPE. This resulted in an increase of standardized, safely produced, decontaminated PPE to meet the nation’s urgent needs.
DTIC Accession Number: DSIAC-2191973 (https://search.dtic.mil/#/results?search=%7B%22query%22:%22DSIAC-2191973%22%7D)