- Pentagon leaders said Tuesday morning that the coronavirus could take months.
- "I think we have to plan for this to take at least a few months," said Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. General Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said reports and models indicate that this could take three months.
- Their comments are contrary to those of President Donald Trump, who said on Monday that the country will be "open again and again for business – very soon – much earlier than three or four months".
- You can find more stories on the Business Insider homepage.
With the President expressing a keen interest in reopening the country in the near future, the Pentagon is preparing for a coronavirus crisis that will last for at least a few months.
"We have to be prepared to tackle it as long as the country needs us," Defense Minister Mark Esper said during a town hall meeting on Tuesday.
"I think we have to plan for this to take at least a couple of months and we take every precaution to do so and be there in the long run."
The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Mark Milley, agreed, saying that all reports show that "you see eight to ten, maybe twelve weeks – call it three months."
Milley added that "some of it depends on what we as a nation do to mitigate smoothing the curve so to speak."
The corona virus, which first appeared in China, has spread to more than 395,000 people worldwide and has claimed more than 17,000 lives. The United States, the third most affected country, has reported more than 46,000 cases and well over 500 deaths.
The Department of Defense reported 174 cases of U.S. military personnel on Tuesday, more than double the number on Friday. The Pentagon also reported 59 civilian, 61 family and 27 contractor cases.
As the numbers continue to grow, President Donald Trump is pushing for the reopening of the United States.
"America will be open to trade again and again soon – very soon – much earlier than three or four months," said Trump said during a press conference on Monday evening.
"Our country was not built to be closed," he added.
The Ministry of Defense announced Monday that the Pentagon Reserve's Health Protection Condition (HPCON) was raised to "Charlie", the second highest level, and increased restrictions were imposed on the building.
"We will be teleworking as long as necessary to ensure that we overcome the coronavirus crisis," said Esper on Tuesday. "It will take weeks, maybe months."
"At the end of the day, in a few months, we'll get through this," he added.