Coronavirus: US Navy ship quarantined in Guam after 23 crew-mates found to be infected

Graig Graziosi
In the span of 20 minutes, 20 F-18 fighter jets took off and landed on the USS Theodore Roosevelt: TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images

All 5,000 US Navy sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier will be tested for coronavirus after 23 members of the crew tested positive for the virus.

The San Diego-based ship will be quarantined in Guam while the sailors are tested for the virus.

McClatchy DC reported that the ship was on deployment in the Pacific and had just completed a visit to Da Nang, Vietnam, on 9 March. The first infected sailors were identified 15 days later.

Navy Secretary Thomas Modly told reporters that the sailors who had tested positive thus far have only exhibited mild symptoms.

“Aches and pains, and sore throats, but nothing that required hospitalisation,” he said.

During the ship’s visit to Guam, sailors will be confined to the ship or the pier depending on their duties.

“No one on the crew will be allowed to leave anywhere into Guam other than on pierside. We are already in the process of testing 100 per cent of the crew to ensure that we’ve got that contained,” Mr Modly said.

In total, the Navy has 86 active coronavirus cases throughout the branch. Fifty seven cases are sailors or officers, 13 are civilian workers, five are contractors and 11 are dependents.

While the Navy has been the branch hardest hit by the coronavirus thus far, the pandemic is also causing problems throughout the Armed Forces.

The Chicago Tribune reported that training exercises, including a large international joint exercise in Europe, have been cancelled due to the virus.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said risk to national security would be “moderate to minor” and that the worst-case scenario would be that the military would lose some of its preparedness for missions and combat.

“I’m just not in a place right now where I can give you an accurate description of what that’s going to look like,” Mr Milley said.

The chief of the National Guard Bureau, General Joseph Lengyel, said the pandemic is like having hurricanes of varying strength hit every US state and territory, including Washington DC, at once.

The National Guard has been mobilised by every state and three territories, with more than 10,000 Guard members activated for duty.

“This is a historic event that will require a historic response,” Mr Lengyel said.

No US troops have died due to the coronavirus as of the reporting of this story, though military officials anticipate it will continue to spread through the branches.

Brigadier General Paul Friedrichs, Joint Staff Surgeon for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said 280 members of the active duty force were confirmed to have coronavirus. A week prior, that number was 51.

“We think we’re going to see this - no surprise - continue to grow,” he said. “Our curve is not flattening.”

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