LOS ANGELES — The Navy has confirmed that seven crewmembers who were on board the USNS Mercy in Los Angeles have tested positive for COVID-19 and are being isolated off the ship.
Last week, a Navy public affairs officer confirmed that one crew member on the ship had tested positive fo the novel coronavirus.
The ship was serving as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients admitted to shore-based hospitals. On Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a new way the USNS Mercy will be used saying the ship will prioritize seniors from nursing homes that are not infected with COVID-19. He said the ship will be used to get the healthy people away from those who are infected trying to reduce hot spots.
A Navy public affairs officer issued the following statement on the crewmember outbreak saying it won't affect the ship's ability to receive patients.
“Seven Medical Treatment Facility crewmembers on board USNS Mercy have tested positive for COVID-19 and are currently isolated off the ship. All who were considered to have been in close contact with those crewmembers remain in quarantine off the ship and have tested negative for COVID-19 with the exception of one crewmember who was the fifth confirmed positive case. The ship is following protocols and taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of all crewmembers and patients on board.”
The hospital ship departed from Naval Station San Diego last month to help fight the spread of COVID-19.
The 1,000-bed ship is staffed by more than 800 Navy medical personnel and support staff, and 70-plus civil service mariners who operate and navigate the ship, load and off-load mission cargo, assist with repairs to mission equipment and provide essential services to keep the medical facility running.
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According to the CDC, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a family of viruses that is spreadable from person to person. Coronavirus is believed to have been first detected in a seafood market in Wuhan, China in December 2019. If someone is sick with coronavirus, the symptoms they may show include mild to severe respiratory illness, cough, and difficulty breathing.
Currently, there is no vaccine, however, the CDC suggests the following precautions, as with any other respiratory illness:
Know how it spreads
There is no vaccine
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus
It is thought to spread mainly from person-person between people in close contact
And believed to be spread by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes
Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds
If soap and water aren't available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Put distance between yourselves and others
Stay home when you are sick
Wear a facemask if you are sick
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
If you don't have tissue, cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow
Immediately wash your hands after coughing and sneezing
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
You can find information on disinfecting and cleaning on the CDC's How to Protect Yourself page.
The California Department of Public Health has issued guidance on the use of cloth face coverings to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
The County of San Diego has made face coverings mandatory for those working with the public including grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and similar businesses.
While officials say these face coverings are not a substitute for practices like social distancing and handwashing, there is evidence to suggest that the use of cloth face coverings by the public during a pandemic could help reduce disease transmission. Officials do not recommend the public use N-95 or surgical masks which are needed by health care workers and first responders.