While they have two very different missions, two San Diego-based U.S. Navy ships are both battling multiple cases of COVID-19. Meanwhile, the Navy is seeking measures to mitigate further infection.
A sailor who served on USS Theodore Roosevelt, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, has died from the coronavirus. The sailor was previously hospitalized and then placed in the intensive care unit before his death, the Navy said.
“Our condolences go out to his family and our thoughts and prayers are with the entire crew,” said General Mark Milley, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The ship is dealing with an outbreak of about 600 cases of COVID-19 among its crew members. Four sailors are now in the Naval Hospital on Guam -- one of those four is in intensive care.
At Tuesday's press briefing, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and General Mark Milley discussed measures being taken to protect sailors from the coronavirus including limiting military movement and quarantining sailors before deployments.
“Implementation is always a challenge particularly in an organization that’s 2.2 million people strong,” Esper said.
As for the outbreak and the handling of the coronavirus on the Roosevelt, which resulted in the ship’s commanding officer Brett Crozier being relieved, Milley said, "Right now there’s an active ongoing investigation in the hands of the CNO (Chief of Naval Operations).”
The Roosevelt has tested 93% of the crew and more than 4,000 sailors are now off the ship, according to the Navy.
Meantime, the Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy is also coping with multiple cases of COVID-19. The ship is docked in the Port of Los Angeles, helping to relieve the stress on hospitals.
A spokesperson told NBC 7, “Seven Medical Treatment Facility crewmembers onboard USNS Mercy have tested positive for COVID-19 and are currently isolated off the ship.”
Adding, those in close contact with infected crewmembers remain in quarantine off the ship.
General Milley said no other U.S. Navy ships had a significant number of COVID cases.
Secretary Esper said the military is adjusting as it faces the challenges of maintaining defense in the age of COVID-19.
“We will remain flexible and agile to get through the invisible enemy.”