As the number of positive coronavirus cases mount in the greater San Diego region, the Navy’s U.S. Pacific Fleet announced it would forego naming ships sailors who test positive are assigned to.
Two more positive cases surfaced Friday, followed by five more Saturday, but the service would only specify whether the personnel in question belonged to different commands.
“These Sailors are currently isolated off ship and restricted in movement in accordance with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Guidelines,” a U.S. Pacific Fleet release stated.
For now, the service indicated it will only be providing the number of positive cases and region in which they arise, the San Diego Union Tribune first reported.
Prior to the change, the Navy was providing the precise commands of positive cases. Two sailors from the amphibious assault ship Boxer, for example, tested positive last week and are currently in self-quarantine in their homes.
“U.S. Pacific Fleet commanders and commanding officers are committed to taking every measure possible to protect the health of our force,” U.S. Pacific Fleet said in a release.
“We remain in close coordination with state and federal authorities, and public health authorities to ensure the well-being of our personnel and local population.”
On Friday, the Navy ordered commands across the fleet to take every possible measure to avoid large formations.
Unit leadership has been instructed to “remain out of congregate settings, avoid mass gatherings and maintain six feet or two-meter distance from others when possible,” Lt. James Adams, U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesperson, told Navy Times.
The Navy’s response follows a ProPublica report last week that revealed apparent negligence on the part of Boxer leadership, who, instead of using available outdoor spaces, reportedly crowded approximately 80 senior enlisted sailors and officers into tight quarters aboard the San Diego-based ship — 2 to 4 feet apart — for a 30-minute update on the continually escalating crisis.
“Definitely not enough room to maintain appropriate distance,” one frustrated sailor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told ProPublica. “People are wondering why we gathered in a room contradictory to CDC guidance.”
Of course, San Diego and the U.S. Pacific Fleet are far from isolated examples. Positive cases of COVID-19 were popping up throughout the fleet this weekend.
Three assigned to Naval Special Warfare test positive from Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor
Three first-class petty officers assigned to Naval Special Warfare tested positive on March 21 for COVID-19, Naval Special Warfare Command Public Affairs confirmed.
The trio were reportedly training at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor when they contracted virus. The positive test results came just two days after Naval Special Warfare Command’s first confirmed case, one that also occurred at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.
“All four confirmed positive cases display signs of improvement,” Naval Special Warfare Command announced.
“Naval Special Warfare will not provide or confirm the rate of any of the four petty officers who tested positive for COVID-19 in support of operational security.”
Two test positive at Navy Medical Readiness Command-Bethesda, Maryland
Two personnel tested positive for coronavirus in Bethesda — one on March 20 and the other March 21.
“These cases have been reported by the State of Maryland and are not additional cases,” a Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Public Affairs release said.
“The individuals are currently quarantined and receiving medical care in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guidelines.”
One confirmed with COVID-19 at Naval Supply Systems Command, Fleet Logistics Center Norfolk, Virginia
An employee at Naval Supply Systems Command in Norfolk, Virginia, tested positive for coronavirus on March 21, a command release confirmed.
The individual is currently being cared for at a local hospital.
“Personnel who were immediately identified as having close contact with the employee have been notified, placed on telework at their residences and are being monitored,” the release said.
As of now, the military is only testing personnel who surpass a fever of 100.4 degrees or display symptoms of an acute respiratory infection, Naval Medical Forces Pacific confirmed.
Those who display indicators that fall short of the aforementioned symptoms are currently not being tested.
Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.