As new coronavirus hot spots have emerged across the country, the Department of Veterans Affairs has so far deployed nearly 1,000 of its own medical professionals to 46 states as part of its “fourth mission.”
The department is currently tracking some 5,254 active coronavirus cases, including 4,655 veterans and 432 VA employees, according to public data.
To date 40 employees have died due to complications from coronavirus. Since the beginning of the pandemic, VA has tracked 26,132 cumulative cases, including a total of 2,624 employee cases.
“We have not been hit particularly hard in the broader sense, in that we have about 600 beds occupied by veterans who have Covid,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie told reporters Tuesday. “We’ve lost about 1,500, but the vast majority of veterans who contracted this have recovered. That has allowed us to increase our footprint across the country.”
The department is currently taking care of 9,000 non-veterans patients with the virus, he said.
VA employees, for example, are assisting some 30 nursing homes in Florida today with the state’s coronavirus response, Wilkie said. The department sent medical professionals on Sunday to help a state-run mental health hospital in Phoenix, Arizona.
“It’s balancing for us; our veterans come first,” Wilkie said. “[In] the New York metropolitan area, we did not have a great explosion in terms of veterans cases, at least veterans cases that required hospitalization, and that’s when we opened our doors. We look at conditions on the ground as to where to deploy.”