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Navy Publishes Scientific Paper on USS Theodore Roosevelt COVID-19 Outbreak

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A multidisciplinary team of U.S. Navy Medicine personnel published a comprehensive analysis of the USS Theodore Roosevelt COVID-19 (or SARS-CoV-2 as it was also known at the time) outbreak of spring 2020 in the New England Journal of Medicine on Nov. 11, 2020.

A sailor takes a COVID-19 sample for testing.
Taking Samples
Navy Seaman Hayden Runyon, a medical corpsman assigned to 3rd Medical Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, takes a sample from aUSS Theodore Roosevelt sailor to be tested for COVID-19, April 20, 2020. Upon arriving in Guam on March 27, the Theodore Roosevelt established an emergency command center, initiated a roving and deep-cleaning team and continually educated the crew on social distancing and proper protective procedures and behaviors to assist in mitigating and controlling the spread of COVID-19.
Photo By: Navy Seaman Apprentice Kaylianna Genier
VIRIN: 200420-N-LH674-1033A

While preliminary findings and a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report were released in June from a limited population, this paper provides an epidemiological description of the outbreak that includes all of the crew.

The paper contributes to the growing body of knowledge on the behavior of the new coronavirus and will support continued efforts to stem the impact of the virus in the Navy, in the United States and around the world.

A large ship sails in the ocean.
USS Theodore Roosevelt
The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt leaves Apra Harbor following an extended visit to Guam in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, May 21, 2020. The Theodore Roosevelt is underway conducting carrier qualifications during a deployment to the Indo-Pacific.
Photo By: Navy Seaman Kaylianna Geni
VIRIN: 200521-N-LH674-1070

Over the course of the outbreak, 1,271 sailors (27% of the crew) tested positive for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) by rRT-PCR testing. The authors found that working in confined spaces, enlisted rank, history of angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor use, respiratory disease, and obese body mass index were associated with an increased risk of infection.

In their conclusions, the authors noted SARS-CoV-2 spread quickly among the Roosevelt's crew. Transmission was facilitated by close quarters and asymptomatic and pre-symptomatically infected crew members. Nearly half of those who tested positive for the virus never developed symptoms. These findings show that young, healthy working-age adults can play a role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

A hand wearing a medical rubber glove puts a vial of fluid in a specimen holder.
COVID Testing
Navy Seaman Karlie Doll, assigned to U.S. Naval Hospital Guam, handles a sample collected from a sailor assigned to aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, April 22, 2020.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Kelsey Hockenberger
VIRIN: 200422-N-VR594-1026

"We must continue to be aggressive about studying COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2," said co-author of the paper, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Kasper. ''It's about keeping our operational forces ready and underway, protecting the health of our personnel, while contributing to the general body of knowledge of this virus.''

(Read the New England Journal of Medicine article here.)  

(Navy courtesy story from the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.)

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