Seven aboard USNS Mercy infected with coronavirus

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(LOS ANGELES) — The U.S. Navy has removed 116 medical staff members from the hospital ship USNS Mercy, docked in Los Angeles, after seven of them tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The personnel were taken to a nearby base and remain under quarantine. None so far has needed hospitalization, said Lt. Rochelle Rieger of the 3rd Fleet. It’s unclear where or how the sailors became infected, Rieger said.

The ship left San Diego on March 23, and all personnel were screened before they boarded, Rieger said. It arrived in Los Angeles four days later to provide relief to the city amid the pandemic by accepting patients who were not infected with the virus.

None of the more than 1,000 personnel aboard were allowed to leave the ship once it departed San Diego.

So far the ship, with 1,000 beds, has taken in only 20 patients from hospitals and none has tested positive for the coronavirus or showed any symptoms of the illness, Rieger said. Two medical personnel from the ship who tested positive came in close contact with a small number of the patients, but they were wearing full protective gear, including gloves, N95 masks and goggles.

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By Professional Mariner Staff