Pentagon leaders say coronavirus response expected to last months

By Tony Bertuca / March 24, 2020 at 12:07 PM

Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said today the Pentagon expects the coronavirus outbreak to last "at least" a few months, while President Trump is signaling he wants to soon roll back economically costly social distancing measures.

"I think we need to plan for this to be a few months long, at least," Esper said during a Pentagon "town hall" panel.

Esper said that eight to 10 weeks might be indicative of how long the outbreak will last, given the length of time it has taken China and South Korea to "flatten the curve" of COVID-19 infections.

"You're looking at probably at least that long," he said, adding that DOD is still planning to "be in it for the long haul."

Milley agreed that it could take "eight to 10 weeks, call it three months."

"Some of that depends on what we do as a nation to mitigate it, to flatten that curve," Milley said.

Trump, meanwhile, is showing signs he wants to lift current workforce restrictions and re-open the U.S. economy."Our people want to return to work," he tweeted today. "They will practice Social Distancing and all else, and Seniors will be watched over protectively & lovingly. We can do two things together. THE CURE CANNOT BE WORSE (by far) THAN THE PROBLEM! Congress MUST ACT NOW. We will come back strong!"