US Navy Issues COVID-19 Guidance
The U.S. Navy has issued standardized operational guidance aiming to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through its deploying units after more than 3,100 confirmed cases and 12 deaths have been reported in its ranks and several warships have been sidelined by onboard outbreaks.
The guidance, which outlines minimum actions required for units to deploy safely during the coronavirus pandemic, builds on existing restricted movement, isolation and quarantine procedures already in practice as well as lessons learned, and has been coordinated with the Navy Bureau of Medicine for the latest scientific efficacy, the Navy said.
“Our forces continue to operate forward every day; the impact of COVID-19 on the global community only heightens the critical role our Navy plays in maintaining security and stability at sea,” said Vice Adm. Phillip Sawyer, the Navy’s operations chief in charge of coordinating the service’s response to COVID-19.
“As we learn more about this virus, the Navy will continue to take steps necessary to preserve our operational readiness while protecting the health of our forces.”
The Navy said it expects the mitigation measures will be in place for a lengthy period of time.
While testing is the only way to uncover asymptomatic individuals, it does not guarantee a deploying unit is COVID-free. Public health mitigation measures, like social distancing, deep cleaning and face coverings, will still be followed to reduce the likelihood of a COVID-19 outbreak once the unit is deployed.
“Personal responsibility and disciplined organizational public health protection measures are the bedrock of risk reduction and risk mitigation,” said Navy Surgeon General Rear Adm. Bruce Gillingham.
The minimum actions to deploy a unit will consist of pre-deployment medical screening, a minimum of 14 days in a pre-deployment restriction of movement sequestered status, and adherence to preventative measures like handwashing and face coverings while underway.
Pre-deployment screening will consist of an assessment of COVID-19 exposure history, a temperature check, a check for COVID-19 signs and symptoms, a review of any past COVID-19 testing, and a thorough evaluation of the member’s high risk factors. The daily screening will consist of a questionnaire and temperature checks.
This guidance will also apply to any ship riders, direct support personnel, and all others penetrating an established clean bubble.