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Top Navy, Marine Corps Officials Provide COVID-19 Update

March 26, 2020 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

The Navy and Marine Corps are taking actions across the force to prevent the spread of COVID-19, containing outbreaks and recovering the force as quickly as possible, acting Navy Secretary Thomas B. Modly said.

Modly, commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David H. Berger and Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Troy E. Black held a Pentagon news briefing today.

Two men stand at lecterns. One man is speaking to the audience.
Pentagon Talk
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas B. Modly speaks at a Pentagon news briefing alongside Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David H. Berger, March 26, 2020.
Photo By: Lisa Ferdinando, DOD
VIRIN: 200326-D-BN624-0013

The sea services are also working to help American citizens, Modly said.

For instance, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, has set aside a quarantine location for citizens returning from areas affected by the caronavirus, he said.

Currently there are 112 passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship at Miramar, according to today's Pentagon media fact sheet update.

The Navy's two hospital ships are or will be underway, he said.

The USNS Comfort will likely set sail from Norfolk, Virginia, to New York City this weekend and arrive by the early part of next week, he said.

A Navy ship with a red cross on its side is escorted by a small tug boat near a bridge.
Channel Navigation
The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy navigates the San Diego channel, March 23, 2020. The Mercy has deployed in support of the nation’s COVID-19 response efforts and will travel to Los Angeles.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Lasheba James
VIRIN: 200323-N-XN169-1030Y
A forklift operator positions his load on dock in front of a ship.
USNS Comfort
Supplies and personnel are loaded aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., March 24, 2020.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Joshua D. Sheppard
VIRIN: 200324-N-PW494-0073

The USNS Mercy is scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles tomorrow, according to today's Pentagon media fact sheet update.

Within the Navy, there are currently 104 sailors, 23 civilians, 16 family members and 19 contractors who have tested positive for COVID-19, he said.

Several sailors who have tested positive are aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, he said. Those sailors are being flown off the ship to a Defense Department facility in Guam. All who tested positive show relatively mild symptoms and are recovering.

The Roosevelt is en route to Guam and testing aboard the ship is currently being conducted, he said. None of the crew will be allowed to leave pier-side, he said.

Modly added that despite this the Roosevelt is operationally capable to do its mission if required.

Woman points medical device at man’s forehead
Health Screen
A field medical technician with 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., pre-screens a II Marine Expeditionary Force Marine for the coronavirus disease after he returned from a deployment overseas, March 24, 2020.
Photo By: Marine Corps Cpl. Rachel K. Young-Porter
VIRIN: 200323-M-ZV140-1137C

Of Marine Corps personnel testing positive thus far, there are 31 Marines, five civilians, five family members and three contractors, he said.

Total COVID-19 cases for the entire DOD are 280 military, 134 civilians, 98 family members and 62 contractors, according to today's Pentagon media fact sheet update.

Modly outlined some steps the services are taking to reduce risk.

Commanders and supervisors are receiving guidance to help minimize risk to their people and families, he said.

A person scrubs to disinfect equipment.
Disinfectant Duty
A sailor assigned to Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune disinfects medical equipment at the COVID-19 active duty screening site at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., March 19, 2020.
Photo By: Marine Corps Warrant Officer Brian Lautenslager
VIRIN: 200319-M-OH106-010
Women insert needles in mannequins.
Mercy Training
Sailors assigned to the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy practice administering an IV needle during training, March 25, 2020.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Abigayle Lutz
VIRIN: 200325-N-FK318-2033

Exercises have been scaled back or canceled, he said, including two in California at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center and the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, in Pickel Meadows.

The services are also practicing social distancing. For instance, public graduation ceremonies at recruit training facilities have been canceled and  recruiting is being conducted virtually instead of meeting face-to-face with prospects.

Berger said that although training has been scaled back, it hasn't been halted because the Navy, Marine Corps team "is your force in readiness that has to be ready to respond."

Black said Marines are doing the best they can to minimize risk, including social distancing and practicing good hygiene.