The nation’s largest shipyard continues to await results on coronavirus tests administered to 14 military and civilian personnel.
So far, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility has yet to record a positive case, and officials say they’re following the latest policies from both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Defense Department to protect the health of their personnel and the Kitsap County community.
“PSNS & IMF leadership continues to meet daily to evaluate the situation and assess the need for further action in coordination with Naval Sea Systems Command and U.S. Pacific Fleet,” wrote shipyard spokeswoman Meghan Henderson in a prepared statement to Navy Times.
“The health and safety of our workforce and community is — and always will be — the shipyard’s top priority," she added. "The shipyard’s efforts and planning are focused on ensuring we are aligned with DoD guidance, implementing CDC recommendations and fulfilling our critical national security mission. We are working to keep the workforce informed. The health of our people is our primary concern.”
Officials told Navy Times on Tuesday that the tests were administered to personnel who work at the Bremerton site and the detachments at Bangor and Everett.
On Tuesday, U.S. Pacific Fleet officials announced that a sailor assigned to the guided-missile destroyer Ralph Johnson, which is homeported in Naval Station Everett, tested positive for the virus.
More than 14,400 civilians and 750 uniformed personnel work at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility sites, Henderson said.
Those who have been tested for coronavirus are barred from returning to the base and have been urged to isolate themselves in their homes while awaiting the results.
“We are closely and continuously evaluating the health of the workforce to ensure they are kept safe, while at the same time ensuring we meet mission requirements,” said Henderson. “For employees who show symptoms, we are directing them to their civilian care provider to ensure they are being assessed and cared for.”
The base has distributed 2,000 cleaning kits containing disinfecting solution, wipes, gloves and instructions on how to use them to combat the spread of disease.
Preserving the health of the workforce there is vital to national security. It’s the only shipyard on the West Coast that can make major repairs to aircraft carriers but it’s near the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the Pacific Northwest.
Much of the base is in Kitsap County, and the Everett detachment is in Snohomish County, about 25 miles north of Seattle.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Snohomish Health District had confirmed 266 COVID-19 cases with another 21 patients listed as “probable” for the illness.
Health authorities reported 48 patients were isolated in their homes or long-term care facilities and another 48 hospitalized. They counted 97 cases under investigation. Although 88 patients had recovered, five died, according to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office.
As of Tuesday evening, the Kitsap Public Health District has counted seven confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Prine came to Navy Times after stints at the San Diego Union-Tribune and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors and the Combat Infantryman Badge.