As the coronavirus pandemic lingered into fall 2020, COVID-19 figures continued to be a hot-button topic for both candidates on the presidential campaign trail.
During a campaign speech in Michigan on Sept. 9, U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden stated that as of that date, there had been over 118,000 COVID-19 infections documented amongst military personnel, resulting in more than 6,000 military deaths — overinflating the actual number of COVID-19-related deaths in the military.
As of Sept. 9, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) reported that the total number of military deaths resulting from COVID-19 infection was, in fact, seven.
The topic came up when the presidential contender told attendees in Warren, Michigan that he carried a schedule with him that included an updated list of the number of military casualties and fatalities suffered by troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Biden read several figures, then claimed that the number of COVID-19-related military cases was at 118,984, including 6,114 “military COVID deaths.” (Tune in at the 26-minute mark in the video below.)
A campaign aide told CNN that Biden misspoke when he accidentally cited the numbers of COVID-19 deaths and cases in Michigan rather than those in the military. Even if that were the case, his figures still would have been inaccurate: As of Sept. 9, Michigan state officials reported 108,595 cases, including 6,552 deaths. Snopes contacted the Biden campaign for further clarification but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
At the time of writing, DOD has recorded 47,117 military cases of COVID-19 — resulting in a total of eight deaths. In addition, there have also been seven dependent deaths, 22 contractor deaths, and 60 civilian deaths, totaling 90 cumulative deaths for personnel employed by the DOD.