‘Small number’ of USS Ronald Reagan sailors have tested positive for coronavirus, Navy says
By CAITLIN DOORNBOS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 4, 2020
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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — A “small number” of sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan tested positive for the coronavirus while underway last week, 7th Fleet spokeswoman Cmdr. Reann Mommsen confirmed on Friday to Stars and Stripes.
The sailors tested positive on Aug. 27, received immediate medical treatment and were taken off the ship, she said in an email. None were hospitalized.
“There are currently no positive COVID sailors aboard USS Ronald Reagan,” Mommsen said. COVID-19 is the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
The Navy is investigating how the coronavirus made its way onto the carrier, which has been at sea since June. Personnel who deploy to the ship are required to undergo a two-week quarantine and test negative for the coronavirus before boarding the vessel, according to Navy policy.
“An investigation is underway to determine the source of infection,” Mommsen said. “The Reagan crew has worked extremely hard to minimize the risk of infection onboard since they deployed more than three months ago.”
The aircraft carrier made a brief port visit to Guam on Aug. 22-26, but crewmembers were not allowed to leave designated areas on the pier and a secured beach at Naval Base Guam to prevent exposure to the virus, according to a Navy statement from Aug. 21.
The 7th Fleet has conducted five “safe haven” liberty port visits for deployed ships this year as the Navy keeps ships at sea longer to avoid coronavirus exposure, according to the statement.
“With the exception of a few mandatory personnel to ensure the ship’s safe arrival, there will be no interaction with any personnel outside the designated liberty areas,” the Navy said about the Reagan’s visit. “For the docking process, all COVID mitigations will be in place to include social distancing, masks, gloves and minimal interactions.”
A coronavirus outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt in March sidelined the aircraft carrier for more than a month in Guam. Meanwhile, the Navy disembarked, isolated and tested crewmembers and sanitized the ship. More than 1,150 Roosevelt sailors tested positive in that outbreak, one of whom died.
The Reagan cases did not appear to slow the carrier, whose crewmembers took part in a live-fire exercise on Thursday in the Philippine Sea, according to Navy photographs posted online.
“The ship is taking aggressive action and applying all mitigations to protect the health of our sailors and stop the spread of the virus in accordance with [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and Navy guidance as we continue to identify and eliminate any potential vectors of the virus,” Mommsen said.