The Navy plans to test thousands of sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt for the coronavirus after a spate of confirmed cases and will pause the aircraft carrier’s operations at sea, officials said Thursday.
“We are in the process now of testing 100 percent of the crew of that ship to ensure that we were able to contain whatever spread might have occurred there on the ship,” Modly said in a briefing at the Pentagon. “But I also want to emphasize that the ship is operationally capable and can do its mission if required to do so.”
Modly said the infected sailors, who were flown off the ship and were under quarantine in Guam, had mild symptoms that had not required hospitalization so far. The remainder of the crew would not be permitted to disembark in Guam “other than on pier-side,” he said.
It is the first such measure taken aboard one of the Navy’s 11 aircraft carriers since the crisis began.
In the last month, the carrier and its strike group have pulled into Vietnam and conducted operations in the South China Sea.
The Navy decision comes as the military scrambles to assist civilian authorities with the U.S. coronavirus response while seeking to confront the threat of widespread contagion in its own ranks — without disrupting its regular overseas missions.
Pentagon leaders have implemented a host of new restrictions, including a crackdown on military movements globally, but many troops continue to live, work and drill in proximity to each other.
As of Thursday morning, the Pentagon had confirmed 280 coronavirus cases among uniformed personnel, 134 among its civilian employees and 62 among contractors.
The Navy accounts for 133 of the Defense Department cases, including 104 active-duty military members, the largest share among the services. Modly declined to speculate about why that might be.
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