Three sailors aboard the US Navy’s aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt underway in the Pacific Ocean were diagnosed with COVID-19 and were evacuated from the ship, Acting Navy Secretary Thomas B. Modly said.
“We’ve identified all the folks they’ve had contact with, and we’re quarantining them as well,” Modly said at a Pentagon news conference on March 24 where he appeared with Navy Adm. Michael Gilday, the chief of naval operations.
“This is an example of how we are able to keep our ships deployed at seas and underway, even with active COVID-19 cases.”
The Roosevelt was in port about 15 days ago but it would be difficult to tie the three active cases to one particular port visit, according to Gilday.
“We took great precautions when the crew came back from that shore visit, and did enhanced medical screenings of the crew,” Gilday said.
“We are moving very quickly to isolate those cases. [We] … understand who they came in contact with over the recent days and weeks, so we’ve begun to look inside the ship and at how we can isolate and contain as best we can. We’re taking this day by day.”
In the meantime, the hospital ship USNS Mercy deployed 1,128 military personnel and civilians on March 23 to Los Angeles in support of the nation’s COVID-19 efforts, providing a spectrum of medical care, including critical and urgent care for adults. The Mercy was off the coast of California on March 24 and should be in Los Angeles in the next couple of days, he added.
Another hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, is preparing to do the same mission for the city of New York, Modly added, noting that both ships will operate under the operational control of the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Northern Command.
Gilday informed that overall, the US Navy has 86 COVID-19 cases — 57 active-duty service members, 13 navy civilian employees, 11 navy family members and five contractors.
About one-third of navy personnel is at sea, aboard fewer than 100 US Navy ships out of a fleet of about 300, the chief of naval operations said.