Support Local Journalism, Join the SA Current Press Club.

San Antonio Leaders Cry 'Cover Up' Over Pentagon's Refusal to Report Coronavirus Rates at Bases 

click to enlarge A surgical technician scrubs in before entering an operating room at Lackland's Wilford Hall medical facility. - KEVIN IINUMA / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Kevin Iinuma / Wikimedia Commons
  • A surgical technician scrubs in before entering an operating room at Lackland's Wilford Hall medical facility.
The U.S. military says it will no longer report the number of COVID-19 diagnoses at its bases, triggering cover-up accusations by San Antonio and Bexar County officials.

On Friday evening, a coronavirus webpage set up by Joint Base San Antonio confirmed 28 local military personnel, dependents and retirees had tested positive for COVID-19. However, shortly after, the tally was erased from the page, the Express-News reports.

The Pentagon, citing security concerns, on Monday told national news media that it's stopped offering a facility-by-facility breakdown of cases. Going forward, it will only offer updates to its aggregate infection numbers.

“I don't know what the rationale is, but the public has a right to know,” Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said in an interview with the Current. "Employees at the bases need to know. That's something we need to be very careful about."

Few of the roughly 87,000 people working at San Antonio-area military facilities live on base, heightening the potential for infections to spread through the larger community, Wolff said. That makes it vital for local health officials to be able to track on-base cases.

As of Monday, there were 1,087 COVID-19 cases across the Department of Defense. Those numbers, which include both military and civilian personnel, increased by 67% over the weekend.

"This is a global pandemic, and the public has a right to know the number of COVID-19 cases within our community," San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in an emailed statement. "Additionally, the lack of information is complicating a coordinated pandemic response at the state and federal level."

City and county leaders are already at odds with the Trump White House over its lack of transparency when it shipped Americans evacuated from Wuhan, China and stranded cruise ships to Lackland AFB for federal quarantine.

“It’s disconcerting,” Nirenberg told the Washington Post earlier this month. “Throughout the course of this, what I’ve seen is that the lack of coordination at the highest levels of this president’s administration is simply stunning.”

Stay on top of San Antonio news and views. Sign up for our Weekly Headlines Newsletter.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the San Antonio Current Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the San Antonio Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 12, 2022

View more issues


Join SA Current Newsletters

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2022 San Antonio Current

Website powered by Foundation