Navy sailor becomes military’s 81st COVID-19 death

More than 80 service members have died after contracting COVID-19, including the Navy’s latest death of a Reserve forces sailor last week.

Lt. Ivey Quintana-Martinez, 35, of Lake Elsinore, Calif., died of coronavirus-related complications on Dec. 18 at Cedar Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to a Navy statement released Tuesday.

Quintana-Martinez, who had been assigned to Navy Reserve Center San Diego, is the U.S. military’s 81st recorded death since the start of the pandemic and the fourth so far this month.

He had battled the virus for more than a month after being admitted to the hospital on Nov. 10.

“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the family, shipmates and friends of Lt. Quintana-Martinez during this extremely difficult time,” the statement said. “Anyone experiencing COVID-related symptoms is encouraged to seek medical attention immediately.”

COVID-19 deaths within the military have spiked since July, with double-digit death numbers in August, September and October, but the numbers have tapered off as mandatory vaccination deadlines have loomed.

Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense & National Security — New rules try to tackle extremism in the ranks Pentagon releases new rules aimed at tackling extremism in the ranks GOP lawmakers back Navy service members’ lawsuit over vaccine mandate MORE in late August said that all defense personnel must receive a vaccination or have an approved medical or religious exemption by deadlines set by the military services. 

All active-duty troops have passed their deadlines, while the Navy and Marine Corps Reserve must get the shot by Dec. 28. The Army Reserve and National Guard, meanwhile, have until June 30 to comply.

Those that refuse the inoculation will be involuntarily separated from the military, with discharges already happening in the Air Force and the Marine Corps.

The Marine Corps said last week that it has kicked out 103 members for refusing to get vaccinated, while the Air Force said that it has discharged 27 personnel for refusing to comply with the mandate.

The Army, meanwhile, said that six active-duty leaders, including two battalion commanders, have been relieved for not being vaccinated, and more than 2,700 general officer written reprimands have been handed to soldiers who have declined the shot.

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