More than a thousand sailors have been pulled off the coronavirus-infested USS Theodore Roosevelt and brought ashore, according to Adm. Michael Gilday, chief of Navy Operations.
Gilday told a White House press conference that the Navy targets moving 2,700 sailors ashore by Friday.
"In the past day or so, we are making progress in terms of testing," Gilday said. "By Friday, we will continue to increase testing as well."
The fourth-call Nimitz aircraft carrier, which has 5,000 sailors on board, is worst hit by Covid-19. The Navy has not released the total number of sailors who have tested positive.
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has granted the Navy's request to accommodate the sailors, who will be off-loaded from the ship.
The move was in response to the plea made by the ship commander, Capt. Brett Crozier, who wrote a memo disclosing the accleration of Covid-19 transmission on the ship.
Roosevelt has been pier-side at Naval Station Guam since Friday after sailors were discovered to have contracted the virus somewhere between a port visit to Vietnam in early March and an underway period in the Western Pacific.
Adm. John Aquilino told the Pentagon reporters that the Marines are sending expeditionary medical capability from III Marine Expeditionary Force to Guam to assist with the effort.
Aquilino said the Navy was working to expand how many sailors could be tested and isolated to curb the spread of the virus throughout the ship’s crew and start a process to decontaminate the ship and its crew.
“We’re utilizing those assets that we have while at the same time working towards providing better capability,” Aquilino said. “Specifically, working through the governor of Guam to potentially identify some hotels that could meet the needs.”
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas B. Modly said the Roosevelt has had 93 positive tests, with 86 of those service members exhibiting symptoms and seven having no symptoms. So far, 593 have tested negative.
Nearly 1,300 crew members have been tested so far, and some of the results have not come back yet, he added.
The Navy has accelerated testing and is deep-cleaning all the spaces on the ship, Modly said.
"We are providing the commanding officer what he has requested, and we are doing our best to accelerate the pace wherever we can," the acting secretary said. "Like the rest of the country and the world, we are learning more about stopping the spread of this virus each day."
The front lines are constantly being redrawn in this process, Modly said. "Stopping the spread of this virus is the fight we are in right now. [The] Teddy Roosevelt is a frontline theater in this new battle, and we have to respond with the skill and agility and direct communication required to protect our people and our nation," he added.
Modly provided a timeline of actions the Navy has taken since the Roosevelt deployed.
"Prior to deployment, we embarked a special medical team on the ship," he said, noting that before the Roosevelt's visit to Vietnam, the World Health Organization identified fewer than 20 COVID-19 cases there at the time, and all of them were in Hanoi, which is "far away from where the ship was going."
The ship's staff screened sailors returning from liberty, including taking temperature readings, and anyone suspected of having been exposed was quarantined immediately.
"We had no positive tests at that time," the acting secretary said.
"At the end of the 14-day observation period aboard the ship, there were two sailors with symptoms who had positive tests," he said, adding that they were properly isolated and flown off the ship to the naval hospital in Guam, and that their symptoms have since been resolved.