Sailors assigned to warships homeported in San Diego and Everett, Washington, tested positive for the new strain of coronovirus, bringing to three the number of known cases tied to Navy surface vessels.
Of the two newest cases, one sailor is assigned to the littoral combat ship Coronado at Naval Base San Diego and the other reports to the guided-missile destroyer Ralph Johnson in Washington.
Coronado is tied up and undergoing routine maintenance and Ralph Johnson also is in port and not at sea.
Pentagon officials said the destroyer’s crew is busy disinfecting the warship.
"Given this case, Ralph Johnson is conducting extensive cleaning to mitigate further spread to the crew,” read a prepared statement from the Pentagon emailed to Navy Times.
Although Navy leaders shuttered a school house on Naval Base San Diego after a cluster of coronavirus cases emerged over the weekend linked to an instructor, a student from Naval Base Point Loma and another student off the amphibious warship Boxer, the Coronado patient is not believed to be tied to that outbreak.
It remains unclear how he contracted the disease.
Regardless of how they caught COVID-19, all three sailors from Boxer, Coronado and Ralph Johnson have been isolated from their crews and quarantined at their residences off base, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Pentagon officials told Navy Times.
Military medical teams are tracing all individuals who have been in close contact with the trio. Anyone with close contact with them also has been placed into isolation with their movements restricted while they self-monitor for symptoms of the disease.
“Depending on the results of these investigations, additional precautionary measures may be taken,” U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Myers J. Vasquez told Navy Times.
Naval Station Everett abuts the largest city in Snohomish County, Everett, which is about 25 miles north of Seattle.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Snohomish Health District had confirmed 266 COVID-19 cases, with another 21 patients listed as “probable” for the illness.
Health authorities reported 48 patients were isolated in their homes or long-term care facilities and another 48 hospitalized. They counted 97 cases under investigation. Although 88 patients had recovered, five died, according to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office.
In San Diego County, health authorities reported 55 positive coronvirus cases as of Monday.
Prine came to Navy Times after stints at the San Diego Union-Tribune and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors and the Combat Infantryman Badge.