“We’ve identified all the folks they’ve had contact with, and we’re quarantining them as well,” acting Navy Secretary Thomas B. Modly said at a Pentagon news conference today, where he appeared with Navy Adm. Michael Gilday, the chief of naval operations. “This is an example of how we are able to keep our ships deployed at seas and underway, even with active COVID-19 cases. Our force remains on watch throughout the world [during] this crisis, and they’re continuing to execute their primary mission under the National Defense Strategy.”
Navy ships are sailing, Navy planes are flying, and training is still happening to safeguard U.S. national interests and those of the nation’s allies and partners around the world, Modly said.
The ship docked in Da Nang, Vietnam, two weeks ago, but acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly noted that the sailors could have contracted COVID-19 from another source, as members of a flight crew had also visited the aircraft carrier.
Aquilino also said that because he was asymptomatic, he hasn’t been tested for the virus.
“I feel 100% fine,” Aquilino said. “My health is no different than anyone else’s.”
The hospital ship USNS Mercy deployed 1,128 military personnel and civilians yesterday to Los Angeles in support of the nation’s COVID-19 efforts, providing a spectrum of medical care, including critical and urgent care for adults, according to Modly.
Another hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, is preparing to do the same mission for the city of New York, Modly said, noting that both ships will operate under the operational control of the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Northern Command.
Navy Admiral Michael Gilday, chief of naval operations, said that the US Navy had 86 COVID-19 cases: 57 active-duty service members, 13 Navy civilian employees, 11 Navy family members and five contractors.
Approximately one third of Navy personnel is at sea, aboard fewer than 100 Navy ships out of a fleet of about 300, the chief of naval operations said.
Four NATO soldiers tested positive in Afghanistan, and as of March 25th, three staff members at NATO Headquarters have tested positive for COVID-19. One has fully recovered and is back at work, and the other two are recovering. Two contractors have also tested positive.
In Europe, where Defender Europe 2020 was about to begin in April, the virus had infected General Jaroslaw Mika of the Polish armed forces and forced his colleague Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli, U.S. Army Europe’s commander, to self-isolate as a result.
“As of March 13, all movement of personnel and equipment from the United States to Europe has ceased.… Linked exercises to Exercise Defender-Europe 20—Dynamic Front, Joint Warfighting Assessment, Saber Strike and Swift Response—will not be conducted,” U.S. Army Europe announced on March 16th.
Because no such exercise has been conducted in a quarter-century, Defender-Europe 20 is vital. Defender-Europe 20 “shows that NATO allies and partners stand stronger together,” a U.S. Army Europe factsheet explained.
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