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Marines establish Camp Pendleton task force, coronavirus isolation center

U.S. Marines work alongside Marine Corps Community Services employees to sanitize weight plates and machines at Paige Field House on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, March 17, 2020. Camp Pendleton fitness centers are closing twice a day to sanitize equipment and help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

ANDREW CORTEZ/U.S. MARINE CROPS

By ANDREW DYER | The San Diego Union-Tribune | Published: March 26, 2020

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Tribune News Service) — Marines at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton have established a task force and an isolation center to monitor and respond to the spread of coronavirus among Marines on the West Coast, the Corps announced Tuesday.

The isolation center — officially called the Task Force Medical Isolation and Observation Center Camp Pendleton — can house up to 200 Marines and sailors affected by coronavirus.

No one is currently isolated at the facility, according to Gunnery Sgt. Warren Peace, a Marine Corps spokesman, but it is ready to do so if needed.

More than 42,000 active-duty military personnel work on the base, which covers more than 125,000 acres sandwiched between Oceanside and Orange County. It is the largest Marine Corps base on the West Coast.

The task force is a joint effort of I Marine Expeditionary Force, which is based at Camp Pendleton, and Marine Corps Installations West.

The isolation center is comprised of single-occupancy dorm rooms and will house service members who have either tested positive for coronavirus or been diagnosed as such by medical authorities, a Marine Corps statement said.

"All personnel housed at the MIOC aboard Camp Pendleton will be monitored daily by trained medical personnel and provided food, water and appropriate living accommodations until they are no longer symptomatic and their restriction of movement period ends," a I MEF statement said. "The measures are both precautionary and preventative in nature."

One Marine at Camp Pendleton has so far tested positive for the virus while a second was quarantined after traveling to Washington state with a Marine based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar who tested positive.

That Marine was the first service member in the county to test positive, on March 12. Since then, 26 more active-duty military members have tested positive.

On Friday, the Navy announced it would stop naming individual ships with positive cases.

Since Sunday, the Navy has announced 14 additional San Diego sailors have tested positive for coronavirus, including 2 Naval Special Warfare Command sailors from Naval Base Coronado. A Navy spokesman declined to say whether the two are Navy SEALs.

Another local sailor, assigned to a San Diego-based squadron, has also tested positive, the Navy announced late Tuesday.

Here is the Union-Tribune's running tally of positive cases among local military members:

10 sailors on unnamed ships

Three sailors from a Naval Base San Diego schoolhouse

Three sailors at Naval Medical Center San Diego

Three Marines at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar

Two sailors assigned to the USS Boxer

Two sailors at Naval Special Warfare Command at Naval Base Coronado

One sailor assigned to the USS Coronado1 sailor assigned to Naval Air Forces at naval Air Station North Island

One Marine at Camp Pendleton

One sailor assigned to an unnamed squadron in San Diego

With 27 of the county's 242 cases of coronavirus, the military accounts for about 11 percent of all cases countywide according the latest available numbers Tuesday.

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