Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly has confirmed the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt is headed back to Guam and all sailors aboard will be tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
During a briefing in Washington earlier today, Modly said “the ship is pulling into Guam,” and “no one on the crew will be allowed to leave anywhere into Guam other than pierside.”
Modly added that despite this, the Roosevelt is operationally capable to do its mission if required.
On Wednesday Joint Region Marianas issued a statement saying that “four sailors with test results indicative of COVID-19 were medically evacuated from the USS Theodore Roosevelt to Guam today.”
Those 4 sailors were medevaced to Naval Hospital Guam and are reported to be in isolation now.
However, now more than 23 other sailors have reportedly tested positive and the decision was made to have the aircraft carrier with its more than 5,000 sailors return to Guam for comprehensive testing and quarantine.
READ the Defense Department release in FULL below:
Navy, Marine Corps Leaders Provide COVID-19 Update
MARCH 26, 2020 | BY DAVID VERGUN, DOD NEWS
The Navy and Marine Corps are taking actions across the force to prevent the spread of COVID-19, containing outbreaks and recovering the force as quickly as possible, acting Navy Secretary Thomas B. Modly said.
Modly, commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David H. Berger and Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Troy E. Black held a Pentagon news briefing today.
The sea services are also working to help American citizens, Modly said.
For instance, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, has set aside a quarantine location for citizens returning from areas affected by the coronavirus, he said.
Currently, there are 112 passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship at Miramar, according to today’s Pentagon media fact sheet update.
The Navy’s two hospital ships are or will be underway, he said.
The USNS Comfort will likely set sail from Norfolk, Virginia, to New York City this weekend and arrive by the early part of next week, he said.
The USNS Mercy is scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles tomorrow, according to today’s Pentagon media fact sheet update.
Within the Navy, there are currently 104 sailors, 23 civilians, 16 family members and 19 contractors who have tested positive for COVID-19, he said.
Several sailors who have tested positive are aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, he said. Those sailors are being flown off the ship to a Defense Department facility in Guam. All who tested positive show relatively mild symptoms and are recovering.
The Roosevelt is en route to Guam and testing aboard the ship is currently being conducted, he said. None of the crew will be allowed to leave pier-side, he said.
Modly added that despite this the Roosevelt is operationally capable to do its mission if required.
Of Marine Corps personnel testing positive thus far, there are 31 Marines, five civilians, five family members, and three contractors, he said.
Total COVID-19 cases for the entire DOD are 280 military, 134 civilians, 98 family members and 62 contractors, according to today’s Pentagon media fact sheet update.
Modly outlined some steps the services are taking to reduce risk.
Commanders and supervisors are receiving guidance to help minimize risk to their people and families, he said.
Exercises have been scaled back or canceled, he said, including two in California at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center and the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, in Pickel Meadows.
The services are also practicing social distancing. For instance, public graduation ceremonies at recruit training facilities have been canceled and recruiting is being conducted virtually instead of meeting face-to-face with prospects.
Berger said that although training has been scaled back, it hasn’t been halted because the Navy, Marine Corps team “is your force in readiness that has to be ready to respond.”
Black said Marines are doing the best they can to minimize risk, including social distancing and practicing good hygiene.