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‘A small number’ of carrier George HW Bush sailors test positive for COVID-19

Are you a sailor whose ship or unit has had a COVID-19 outbreak? Email geoffz@militarytimes.com and tell us about it.

Sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush have tested positive for COVID-19 this summer, but Navy officials are declining to say how many have contracted the novel coronavirus or when the infections were detected.

“A small number of Sailors have been diagnosed with COVID this summer,” Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, a spokeswoman for Naval Air Force Atlantic, said in an email to Navy Times. “USS George H.W. Bush is not in a deployment status, and similar to other commands in the U.S. Navy with a small number of cases, there has been no impact to readiness.”

The crew members who tested positive “remain in isolation at their private residences in Virginia and receive daily medical supportive care until they have recovered,” Cragg said.

Bush entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in February 2019 and is in the midst of a 28-month maintenance availability.

“USS George H.W. Bush is actively enforcing physical distancing, minimizing group gatherings, wearing (personal protective equipment), and cleaning extensively,” Cragg said. “Norfolk Naval Shipyard is conducting temperature checks and screening all personnel with a medical systems questionnaire, and if required, referring Sailors with symptoms for medical evaluation.”

A reader first alerted Navy Times to the positive tests among the Bush’s crew.

While the sea service provided details of outbreaks at local units and commands during the pandemic’s onset, the Pentagon has since ordered that such details not be released due to operational security concerns.

Bush is at least the second carrier to grapple with a COVID-19 outbreak in the ranks, although its caseload likely pales in comparison to the carrier Theodore Roosevelt, which was sidelined in Guam this spring and suffered an infection rate of more than 25 percent among the carrier’s roughly 5,000 sailors.

Nearly a quarter of the warship Kidd’s crew also contracted the novel coronavirus this spring before the Navy stopped updating infection numbers for the guided-missile destroyer on April 30.

An undisclosed number of sailors assigned to the dock landing ship Carter Hall tested positive for the virus in May while the ship was in port, but officials declined to say how many sailors were affected.

The Navy reported 9,078 COVID cases among sailors, civilians, dependents and contractors as of Wednesday, with 6,194 recovered.

One TR sailor died from the disease, as have 13 Navy civilians and four contractors

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