Earlier today, Acting Secretary of the Navy, Thomas Modly, said there were “several” other cases on board, but did not give a specific number.
“We are testing 100% of the crew on this ship to make sure we can contain any spread that may occur,” Modly told reporters at the Pentagon during a briefing on Thursday morning. There are approximately 5,000 people on board the carrier.
The Roosevelt is on its way to Guam, according to Modly. “No one on the crew will be allowed to leave anywhere in Guam except the side of the pier,” he said.
The ship had last arrived at the port of Vietnam more than two weeks ago. It is not known where the sailors originally contracted the virus. The Navy is currently chasing all of the ship’s personnel.
The almost eight-fold spike in the number of positive cases in two days on board the ship is the latest red flag in how the pandemic affects the U.S. military. There are now a total of 280 military personnel who tested positive for the new coronavirus on Thursday morning, an increase of 53 from the 227 reported on Wednesday. And there are nearly 600 positive cases in the Defense Department, which includes civilians, dependents and contractors. According to Modly, 133 of them are in the Navy.
Esper also raised the health protection status for all defense installations around the world, limiting access and encouraging telework throughout the department.
Despite the social distance measures taken throughout the department, as is the case throughout the country, Joint Staff Surgeon Brig. General Paul Friedrichs told reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday: “We think we will continue to see this – unsurprisingly – continue to grow” over the next three weeks, as far as they can model.
President Donald Trump has said he wants the economy to recover by Easter.
“We think the best way to limit this growth or to mitigate this growth is the measures we have talked about,” said Friedrichs. “I don’t think there is much value in speculating on a particular date.”