7 Pentagon staffers test positive for Covid after official trip

The staffers who tested positive are quarantined. Hicks visited U.S. Strategic Command in Nebraska, Naval Base Coronado in California and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii.

More separations: Also on Thursday, the Marine Corps announced it has kicked out more troops for refusing the vaccine. The total number of discharges has risen to 169, up from the 103 announced last week.

The fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, which awaits President Joe Biden’s signature, mandates that none of the services can dishonorably discharge service members for vaccine refusal. Instead, discharges must be either honorable or general under honorable conditions.

Marine Corps spokesperson Capt. Andrew Wood confirmed that Marines who are separated for vaccine refusal are discharged as general under honorable conditions.

The road ahead: The Marines are still dealing with 3,192 requests for religious accommodation, with 3,080 of those having been processed and zero requests approved. The Corps has granted 1,026 administrative or medical exemptions.

Overall, 95 percent of all active-duty Marines have received at least one shot, while just 85 percent of the Reserve force has received at least the first dose.

The Air Force has separated 27 airmen to date, while the Army and Navy are waiting until January to begin discharging troops for refusing the shots. The Army says 98 percent of its active-duty force has had at least one shot, with the Air Force reporting the same percentage. The Navy says over 99 percent of its sailors have received at least the first dose.

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