With the number of positive cases from the USS Roosevelt steadily on the rise, the military is moving quickly to increase their medical capacity on Guam.
Another six sailors tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total number of infected crew members to 678.
This also means the number of negative cases is decreasing since more and more sailors are re-testing positive, some of whom were quarantined in Tumon hotels.
The military is declining to say how many sailors in hotel-quarantine have tested positive.
Rear Admiral John Menoni, the Joint Region Marianas Commander, said they’re currently at a 2.5 percent rate for USS Roosevelt sailors who have turned up positive on follow-up swabs after initially testing negative.
With one death already recorded and positive cases piling on (8 of which are being treated at the Naval Hospital) the tents are going up quick for the Expeditionary Medical Facility, also known as a field hospital in South Finegayan.
“They’ve had to do some basic site preparation and I believe 95 percent of that is complete, which basically means laying down gravel and leveling out the site. Then today, the Seabees, in conjunction with the Marines from Okinawa who came in specifically for the task, will be putting up tents. And if you want to picture it in your mind, we’re talking about a 13-acre medical hospital, made out of interconnected tents and equipment.”
Materials for the field hospital were offloaded and staged over the last week by 120 Marines and Sailors from Okinawa who are deployed to Guam to support the Seabees.
Captain Eric Correll, from the Seabees CTF 75 group, says they had to work quickly to understand the Roosevelt and all of the sailors’ needs.
“We fell in together in a matter of days, really hours, put together a plan, figured it out, and executed it. And that was both the Navy and Marine Corps team as well as the civilian mariner team, side-by-side,” Capt. Correll said.
He added: “I’ll be honest, I could really feel the energy, once we had talked about the purpose and they understood the mission. It’s a very noble mission, to be able to offload this medical facility and be able to move it to its site and be able to establish it in a very short amount of time, to be able to save lives if called upon.”
The field hospital will have a 150-bed capacity and over 400 military personnel to operate it. JRM officials say it should be operational by mid-next week.
The medical facility will also support local COVID efforts on Guam should the Governor request the added support.
In the meantime, U.S. Air Force Engineers with the RED HORSE Squadron are adding medical tents at the Naval Hospital which should be operational this week.
The tents will add to the hospital’s regular bed and ICU capacity and lend an additional 90 Air Force personnel for staffing.
Despite the steadily growing numbers of positive cases, Navy officials say they’re hoping to get sailors back onto the Roosevelt in the next few weeks and get the ship back out to sea as soon as possible.
The aircraft carrier, docked in Apra Harbor, is undergoing deep cleaning and sanitization to get rid of the virus on board.