Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the military must recognize that it is now in a “new normal” and adapt to the realities to maintain readiness, Stars and Stripes reported.

“The sooner we can adapt our practices, as soon as we can learn from this virus and make changes, the better we will be and the more likely you are to maintain a high degree of readiness for the force,” Esper said Monday during a Brookings Institute webinar. “And we’re looking at all those things right now.”

By Monday, there were just under 5,000 reported COVID-19 cases in the military. Two service members have died from the virus. Esper said the relatively low number of cases is testament to the medical guidance the services have been following since January.

The coronavirus response has forced the services to cut back on some of its training and recruiting activities.

That isn’t having a negative effect now, but “over time, it could accumulate, particularly as we look at how we train with our friends and allies,” Esper said. “And so that’s one of the concerns that we look at.”

DOD photo by Marvin Lynchard