During her news conference this afternoon, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero also confirmed that Guam hotels will be used to quarantine sailors aboardthe USS Theodore Roosevelt, but only those who test negative for COVID-19.
Her decision comes after a request from the U.S. Navy to help find space on Guam to quarantine some of the over 4,000 sailors aboard the aircraft carrier as the Navy scrambles to contain the coronavirus outbreak on the ship.
“Only sailors testing negative for COVID-19 will be housed in the vacant Guam hotel rooms, subject to a 14-day quarantine period, enforceable under the uniformed code of military justice,” the governor said.
The governor said she agreed to the hotel-quarantine with added conditions, including daily health screening of the sailors and military security on every hotel floor.
She emphasized her commitment to stopping the spread of COVID-19 on island and that the sailors will be under strict surveillance.
This response comes in light of a letter from the captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt addressed to U.S. Navy leaders in which he asked that all but 10 percent of the crew on board be off-loaded and quarantined on Island.
In his powerful memo, Captain Brett Crozier pleaded for more help as the ship continues to be gripped by the spread of COVID-19 among sailors in close quarters.
“Keeping over 4,000 young men and women on board the TR is an unnecessary risk,” wrote the captain. “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die…”
In a telephone news conference earlier today, U.S. Pacific Fleet Admiral J.C. Aquilino responded to Crozier’s letter, saying while the health and safety of the sailors is a top priority so too is the operability of the U.S. Navy warship.
“The ship is loaded with all its aircraft. All of its weapons. All of its fuel. And I have responsibilities to ensure the ship can be maintained in a safe manner. We have to be able to fight fires, we have to be able to do damage control,” Aquilino said.
The US admiral made it clear that he will not be off-loading all 4000-some people on board all at once, noting the ship is powered by two nuclear reactors that need critical staffing.
Aquilino said they’ve implemented a “flow system” of pulling a certain number of sailors off while keeping enough on board to keep the ship functioning.
“Once those sailors are isolated/quarantined and are re-tested. When they are full up COVID-free, the plan will be to rotate them back onto the ship and finish the remainder of the ship,” Aquilino said.
Aquilino would not disclose how many sailors have been pulled off the ship so far or how many need to remain on board to keep it online.
He also did not confirm how many have so far tested positive on the Roosevelt. However, several reports have indicated that it’s over 100.