Defense secretary tours Fort Detrick

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  1. Flower

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    Secretary of Defense Mark Esper toured Fort Detrick on Tuesday as part of the Department of Defense's response to the new coronavirus.

    Esper spoke with researchers and scientists at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases about work underway on a vaccine and therapeutics, he said at a press briefing at the Pentagon after his visit.

    "They're moving along on both fronts," Esper said.

    It will take between 12 to 18 months for a COVID-19 vaccine, the defense secretary said, adding that USAMRIID can help support private companies working on vaccine efforts.

    He decided to tour Fort Detrick in person to be able to see what the laboratories are doing to combat the COVID-19. Those laboratories are well-connected to interagency efforts.

    "If anyone knows how to do it, they know how to do it," Esper said.

    Outside of Fort Detrick, Esper also announced the Department of Defense will send 5 million N95 masks and other personal protective equipment to the Department of Health and Human Services for distribution, along with 2,000 deployable ventilators.

    "If we can dramatically reduce the spread of the virus over the next 15 days, together we can help restore public health and the economy and hasten a return to our normal way of life," Esper said at the press briefing.
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