A spokesperson for the Navy’s 3rd Fleet told Business Insider on Tuesday that operations on the USNS Mercy have not been hindered due to the growing outbreak of COVID-19 within the ranks of the hospital ship’s crew.
According to the outlet, a total of seven medical personnel have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the past week while the service has been accepting patients at the Port of Los Angeles in California. These individuals, along with some 120 other personnel they came in contact with, have been removed from the ship and are quarantining back on shore.
“Seven Medical Treatment Facility crewmembers on board USNS Mercy have tested positive for COVID-19 and are currently isolated off the ship,” 3rd Fleet spokesman Cmdr. John Fage said in an email to the San Diego Union-Tribune. “The ship is following protocols and taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of all crewmembers and patients on board.”
The outlet noted that the first case within the crew was reported on Wednesday, and then two more were confirmed by the Navy on Friday before jumping to a total of seven by Monday.
The Mercy docked in Los Angeles on March 27 after departing from San Diego, California, with a mission to ease the burden on area hospitals by treating local patients who did not have the novel coronavirus.
Despite nearly 130 of the crew being quarantined, the Mercy is staffed with over 1,000 medical personnel and is only treating 20 patients who do not have COVID-19 - one of whom is an intensive care unit (ICU) patient, Business Insider reported.
Across the country, the New York City-docked USNS Comfort has been accepting those with and without the novel coronavirus, following pleas from medical officials and an order by US President Donald Trump on April 6.
The Pentagon told Business Insider the 1,000-bed emergency hospital ship is presently treating around 70 individuals, and 34 of them are ICU patients. Overall, the Comfort has seen 120 patients since arriving in NYC on March 30.
The crew of the Comfort has also had its share of COVID-19 cases, with a total of four infections reported. However, three of those personnel have recovered and since returned to work. The fourth crew member remains in quarantine.
"The Comfort was set up to provide assistance and care for patients, and that is exactly what we are doing," a Navy spokeswoman said in a statement to Business Insider.