The secretary of the Army visited Fort Detrick on Thursday in order to learn more about the work being done to combat COVID-19.

In a biosafety level 3 laboratory, a scientist with the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases worked with a sample of a new coronavirus, officially called SARS-CoV-2.

USAMRIID received a sample of the virus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Kathleen Gibson, chief of the Core Laboratory Services Division at USAMRIID.

Researchers at the laboratory are cultivating the virus in order to have enough for future tests and other needs. That can include making sure a test result is correct. At USAMRIID, the virus is multiplied, purified and then divided among projects, Gibson said.

USAMRIID is part of the Laboratory Response Network, which means it can test samples in a diagnostic capacity, she said.

USAMRIID and the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command, which oversees the laboratory, are two tools in the fight against COVID-19, an “extraordinary challenge,” said Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy at a press conference after his tour.

There will be an infusion of funding for the Army to help address COVID-19, McCarthy said.

Some of that money will likely go toward research conducted at USAMRIID and other units under USAMRDC, such as the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

“The heroes in this fight are going to be some of the people we saw today,” said Gen. James C. McConville, Army chief of staff.

While there was an infusion of funding going toward COVID-19, and USAMRDC will receive some, $104 million in funding is still being withheld from USAMRIID and the U.S. Army Research Institute of Chemical Defense at Aberdeen Proving Ground, said Brig. Gen. Michael Talley, USAMRDC commander.

USAMRDC is working to have the funding released, Talley said. But in terms of funding to address SARS-CoV-2 research, they are fine, he said.

The coronavirus is handled in a biosafety level three laboratory requires researchers to don a gown, face shield and an n95 respirator mask. It is a step down from the highest biosafety level, BSL 4, where pathogens such as Ebola are studied. Still, most people would not encounter a BSL 3 laboratory.

USAMRIID Tour

Ryan McCarthy, secretary of the Army, walks past a researcher donning a personal protective equipment suit outside a biosafety level 4 containment lab during a tour Thursday of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick.

And BSL 3 and BSL 4 work was halted for some time at USAMRIID after the CDC found lapses in biosecurity. Since then, the CDC has visited twice, Talley said, each time allowing more work.

‘That’s continuing to be a gradual process back to full operations capabilities, if you will,” he said.

SARS-CoV-2 is not a select agent, which falls under the Federal Select Agent Program overseen by the CDC, Talley said, which means it does not fall under the same restrictions as other pathogens, such as Ebola, which is a select agent.

“In fact, when it was known that USAMRIID would be involved, the first phone call with the CDC, they assured me, ‘No, we absolutely need USAMRIID’s help on this,’ like they had with other responses,” Talley said.

COVID-19 and Fort DetrickFort Detrick is operating at Forced Health Protection Code Bravo, while taking Code Charlie measures, Talley said. That means they are using maximum distance and maximum telework.

Fort Detrick is still open, although its gym is not, Talley said.

There were soldiers who came back from areas with COVID-19 cases that were quarantined, Talley said, and measures are in place if anyone in Fort Detrick housing tests positive for the disease.

Follow Heather Mongilio on Twitter: @HMongilio.

Heather Mongilio is the health and Fort Detrick reporter for the Frederick News-Post. She can be reached at hmongilio@newspost.com.

(25) comments

online_findr

Petition for information of Fort Detrick

A series of conspicuous events,

7/2019, the top secret US army’s medical research institute of infectious diseases at Fort Detrick was closed;

8/2019, a large-scale "influenza" killed more than 10,000 people;

10/2019, the United States organized Event 201 - A Global Pandemic Exercise with the participation of the Deputy Director of CIA;

11/2019, pneumonia of undetermined origin was found in China;

2/2020, the epidemic in world broke out;

3/2020, a large number of English news reports about the close of Fort Detrick were deleted, displaying “404 not found” ;

Now we have reasons to ask the US government to publish the real reason for the close of Fort Detrick, to clarify whether the laboratory is the research unit for the new coronavirus "COVID19" and whether there is a virus leak.

online_findr

Petition for information of Fort Detrick

A series of conspicuous events,

7/2019, the top secret US army’s medical research institute of infectious diseases at Fort Detrick was closed;

8/2019, a large-scale "influenza" killed more than 10,000 people;

10/2019, the United States organized Event 201 - A Global Pandemic Exercise with the participation of the Deputy Director of CIA;

11/2019, pneumonia of undetermined origin was found in China;

2/2020, the epidemic in world broke out;

3/2020, a large number of English news reports about the close of Fort Detrick were deleted, displaying “404 not found” ;

Now we have reasons to ask the US government to publish the real reason for the close of Fort Detrick, to clarify whether the laboratory is the research unit for the new coronavirus "COVID19" and whether there is a virus leak.

threecents

Huh, USAMRIID is not secret. The FNP has been writing about it for many years. You can read about their history on Wikipedia. And they were shutdown because of very well documented problems with their steam sterilizer. There have been quite a few articles about it in the FNP. And what flu outbreak killed 10,000 in August?

jayel86

Bioengineering update.

Russian

Trump said no one knew this would be a pandemic but republican senators who dumped stocks.

Russian

The WH said we need 2 billion masks

The WH said 500 million mask are coming in 12-18 months

Russian

Four senators dumped millions in stocks while Capitol Hill was being briefed on the coronavirus threat but BEFORE markets started tanking. MAGA 2020

jayel86

I didn't know Patrick Stewart worked at Ft Detrick.

Russian

Ft Detrick doesn’t have enough face mask.

Russian

Ft. Detrick wouldn’t even be here now if not for Roscoe who saved the base after the Tea Party targeted the base for closure.

sevenstones1000

Didn’t trump just withhold money from Ft Detrick?

ragramm

I have the highest level of respect for USAMRIID and this is good news about their participation fighting COVID-19. However, several of the pictures show the touring VIPs and their entourage flaunting the protocols for social distancing, shouldn't these folks know better?

Russian

It took over a decade to recover from the Great Depression this will be worse.

Russian

While our retirement accounts went into the red Republican senators with prior knowledge of the pandemic sold off investments to prevent further economic pain in their families.

Dwasserba

Hope their constituents take note of this high level concern for their welfare.

jloo

I didn't know Senator Diane Feinstein was a Republican? Your selective outrage is what defines you as a troll.

Russian

This makes this bipartisan insider trading which is more believable

gabrielshorn2013

It's not "insider trading" if it's based on common knowledge and common sense.

DickD

Common sense, when you are telling your wealthy donors how bad it is going to be while telling the general public a different story. ..Yeah, that's common sense, a Republican taking advantage of his inside knowledge.

You are losing credibility, Gabe.

bkeepr

Thanks for the report. The work done at MRDC, and all of its subordinate Commands (including USAMRIID and WRAIR) usually gains little attention, but has been critical to protecting the US and its Forces from bio threats for many decades.

llrowse

Ft. Detrick started their roll in the study, and prevention of disease around WWI. My grandmother’s first cousin was among the first military scientists. He was a jerk, but I admire his place in disease control.

llrowse

Oops “role”

threecents

Though there was some biowarfare in WWI, Fort Detrick (originally Camp Detrick) did not exist until WWII.

llrowse

Ok. WWII. He was brilliant jerk, suitable for any era.

llrowse

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