Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY Published 7:08 p.m. ET March 30, 2020 CLOSE Social distancing matters. Here is how to do it and how it can help curb the COVID-19 pandemic. USA TODAYWASHINGTON — A New Jersey National Guardsman is the first U.S. service member to die of COVID-19, the Pentagon announced Monday night.The Guardsman died Saturday and had been hospitalized since March 21. Earlier Monday, the Pentagon had announced that the number of COVID-19 cases among troops, their families and civilian employees had surpassed 1,000. There were 1,043 cases compared with 613 on Friday, a 70% increase. The first dependent of a service member died of the disease, according to the Pentagon. There are 569 troops with the disease, 26 of whom are hospitalized.More: Trump says more than 1 million Americans have been tested for coronavirusNo other information was released about the Guard member from New Jersey.”Today is a sad day for the Department of Defense as we have lost our first American service member – active, reserve or Guard – to coronavirus,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement. “This is a stinging loss for our military community, and our condolences go out to his family, friends, civilian co-workers and the entire National

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