The U.S. military said earlier on Wednesday it was also elevating its health protection condition, or HPCON, at bases around the world to Charlie, its second highest level, which suggests sustained community transmission.
The largest increase was among military troops with 73 new cases reported, marking the biggest single-day jump of cases among troops announced during the outbreak. Among them, 24 had recovered from the disease and 15 were hospitalized, DOD reported.
His last day in the Pentagon was March 13.
It is also understood that two other defense employees who visited the service's headquarters in Arlington have also tested positive for the virus. Both have since been isolated and received medical care, officials said.More news: A timeline of Harry and Meghan's best moments as a royal couple
According to CNN, the Pentagon said there are now 227 United States service members who have tested positive for the virus in addition to 67 dependents, 81 Defense Department civilians and 40 defense contractors.
But Esper and U.S. Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have stressed military leaders will seek to mitigate that risk and insist the U.S. armed forces will still be able to carry out its missions.
The drawdown of some 3,400 troops, leaving about 8,600 in Afghanistan, "is scheduled to be complete within 135 days following the signed agreement", the memo stated.
The order is not expected to impact the continued drawdown of US forces from Afghanistan, following an agreement struck in Doha last month with the Taliban in which the USA agreed to initially reduce its presence to 8,600 soldiers over 135 days.More news: Defer Cruise Travel; Inside the Princess Outbreak — CDC
"Additional exceptions may be granted on a case-by-case scenario where travel is deemed mission essential, humanitarian in nature or warranted due to extreme hardship".
This means there will be no deployments, while troops scheduled to return home will have to stay where they are. The Pentagon has said it hopes this will curb the spread of the virus.
"This measure is taken to aid in further prevention of the spread of the coronavirus disease to protect US personnel and preserve the operational readiness of our global force", according to the memo. "Because if we stop doing the right thing today because we think something's going to happen in four weeks, we will make this worse".More news: PFA calls for 'urgent meeting' with Premier League and EFL