As the novel coronavirus continues to infect more people in San Diego County – including several military service members – local military bases have started to take new steps to protect their personnel from the spread of the virus.
On Monday, all personnel entering U.S. Naval bases in San Diego, including Naval Base San Diego, were asked to change the way they routinely show their identification cards at base gates and entry points.
The new method is a “no-touch” ID scanning plan that keeps the guards from touching a service member’s ID card.
Instead, military personnel must now show their IDs at arms-length. Personnel must hold the ID card with the front side facing the sentry, that way the person’s name, date, and affiliation can be easily seen. Cardholders will then be asked to flip the card over so the barcode can be scanned.
“This process will minimize the number of cards handled each day,” the U.S. Navy said. “But please note, if there are issues, the sentries may still ask for the ID card.”
This change is meant to stop the spread of illness through person-to-person contact, U.S. Navy officials said. This new process led to longer than usual lines at Naval Base San Diego Monday morning as personnel adjusted to the procedure.
The change at base entry points comes after several U.S. service members based in San Diego County tested positive for COVID-19.
As of Monday afternoon, there were four such cases:
- A U.S. Navy sailor assigned to USS Boxer, who tested positive for COVID-19 on March 13. This was the first positive case involving a sailor aboard a Navy ship.
- Two U.S. Marines stationed at MCAS Miramar. The U.S. Marine Corps said the two Marines did not come into contact with one another.
- A U.S. Navy sailor stationed at Naval Base San Diego, who tested presumptive positive for the coronavirus.
Brian O'Rourke, a media officer with the U.S. Navy, said additional measures will be taken in San Diego to protect military personnel.
- Visitor Control Center personnel will utilize a health questionnaire to screen all personnel seeking access to installations or facilities.
- Installations with air terminals in the San Diego metro area will begin screening utilizing questionnaires of all personnel embarking/disembarking flights. They will coordinate with installation medical clinics to determine procedures for personnel identified for more comprehensive screening as a result of the initial screening.
- Personnel reporting will be screened upon arrival as a routine precaution.
- Navy Region Southwest and Installations will provide or coordinate cleaning products and/or hand sanitizer for high-traffic facilities and common areas on base.
- Navy Region Southwest and Installations will review increased frequency of janitorial services at certain facilities and will implement in a scalable manner.
- Military Medical Treatment Facilities will develop plans for single points of entry, prescreening procedures and evaluate impacts to mission, as well as keep the installation apprised of important updates, advise and make recommendations as required.
- All Navy Command leadership should assess the risk of and make appropriate decisions on any ship or facility tours, large events or mass gatherings based on nature of the event and value to mission.
The Navy said all Navy Commands should find areas on bases where employees can be initially isolated if they develop COVID-19 symptoms at work. Those employees will then be sent home to isolate, or to a medical treatment facility.
The Navy said that as the COVID-19 situation progressives, Navy Region Southwest “is postured to implement additional measures as needed.”