COVID-19 Spreads To USS Nimitz; DoD Must ‘Operate In A COVID Environment’
WASHINGTON: As COVID-19 continues to tear through the USS Teddy Roosevelt as it sits pierside in Guam, another big deck, the USS Nimitz, is seeing a “small number of breakouts,” Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. John Hyten confirmed today.
The Nimitz, based in Bremerton, Wash., has already started bringing sailors aboard as part of a new Navy policy to have crew aboard for 14 days before deploying in an attempt to keep COVID-19 off ships at sea. Earlier this month, the USS Makin Island amphibious ready group deployed from San Diego early to head off possible infections.
“I think it is not a good idea to think that the [Theodore Roosevelt] is a one of a kind issue,” Hyten said. “To think that it will never happen again, is not a good way to plan.”
The number of positive cases on the TR currently stands at 416, up from the 286 positive cases the Navy reported the day before. One infected sailor who had been transferred to a hotel room in Guam was found unresponsive today and was transferred to an intensive car unit.
Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist, appearing alongside Hyten, sent a veiled warning to China that the US stands ready to defend its interests in the Pacific even while the novel coronavirus may be sweeping the through the TR’s crew.
“If there was a conflict that ship is capable of going into the fight,” Norquist said. Going forward, “we’re going to have to be able to operate in a COVID environment….there will need to be changes,” to how the force trains and prepares to deploy in the face of the global pandemic.
Nearly 2,000 US service members currently have the coronavirus according to new numbers released by the Pentagon today.
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