An Army Reserve soldier died from complications related to COVID-19 on Monday — the fifth service member to die from the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
Master Sgt. Brian K. Tolliver, 46, died in Largo, Florida, after testing positive for COVID-19 on July 10, according to an Army Reserve Medical Command press release.
“We feel a tremendous loss in our military family with the passing of Master Sgt. Tolliver,” said the command’s ranking officer, Maj. Gen. Jonathan Woodson, in an emailed statement. “COVID-19 has taken a dedicated soldier from our formation, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”
Tolliver, who is from Memphis, Tennessee, was admitted to the Largo Medical Center the day after he tested positive and he remained there until the time of his death, the command’s release stated.
As of Thursday morning, there have been a total of 34,584 COVID-19 cases among service members, with 11,915 of those in the Army, according to Pentagon data. More than 19,000 service members have recovered from the illness so far. The Defense Department does not break out those numbers to specify whether those troops are active duty or reservists.
Tolliver served in the Army for 25 years, more than a decade of which was spent in the reserve component.
In his last assignment, Tolliver served as the command paralegal for Army Reserve Medical Command in Pinellas Park, Florida. He is survived by his three children, who reside in Louisville, Kentucky.
“Master Sgt. Tolliver was a tremendous mentor, leader, soldier, and one of the finest human beings I have ever met,” said Lt. Col. T. Scott Randall, the deceased soldier’s immediate supervisor. “He will be sorely missed by all.”
Four of the military’s five deaths have been soldiers from the Army’s reserve components.
A New Jersey National Guard captain died of the illness in March at the age of 57. Then in April, a 41-year-old Navy chief aboard the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt died. A 34-year-old Illinois-based Army Reserve soldier died in May, and a 61-year-old Army reservist died earlier this August.
The Army Reserve suspended in-person drill in March and shifted to virtual formations and instruction whenever possible, according to a policy memo.
The Pentagon’s figures show that there have been a total of 75 deaths among DoD personnel, with 47 among civilian employees, seven among dependents, 16 among contractors and the five among uniformed service members.
The infection rate in the military has been roughly on par with that of the general U.S. population, but the rates of hospitalization and death are much lower, likely due to the younger demographics within the service branches.
Fewer than 2 percent of military cases have required hospitalization, and the death rate is 0.0001 percent, compared to 3 percent nationwide, Military Times reported in early August.
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter who has covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.