Defense Secretary Mark Esper has signed an order freezing the movements of all U.S. troops overseas for 60 days amid the coronavirus pandemic, said CNN, attributing the news to three defense officials.
According to the report, all service members overseas or set to deploy from the U.S. will remain in their current locations for two months.
The news site said the freeze-in-place order will affect 90,000 expected scheduled deployments, including both troops scheduled to return home and troops poised to deploy abroad. There will reportedly be some exceptions, as for naval vessels scheduled to return to the U.S.
CNN further said the decision means troops in places like Iraq or Afghanistan could see their deployments extended by two months.
Unclear is how the order might be affected by an emergent need to bolster forces in any given part of the world.
On Wednesday, Esper raised the health protection status for all defense installations worldwide in response to the outbreak, limiting access and encouraging teleworking across the Defense Department, a step replicated in many workplaces around the world.
According to CNN, the Pentagon said there are now 227 US service members who have tested positive for the virus in addition to 67 dependents, 81 Defense Department civilians and 40 defense contractors.
The Pentagon reportedly believes pandemic will “continue to grow,” despite a clamor from within the Trump admnistration to reopen businesses, relax some restrictions and jumpstart the sputtering economy by Easter.
On Wednesday, the news site reported, a top US military medical official said the Pentagon’s modeling shows the pandemic is likely going to “continue to grow” in the next three weeks, the farthest out he said they were able to model.