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7 crewmembers of USNS Mercy in Los Angeles test positive for COVID-19, isolated off ship

On Friday, Governor Newsom announced a new way the ship will be used saying the ship will prioritize seniors from nursing homes that are not infected with COVID-19.

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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RELATED: USNS Mercy to be used for nursing home patients not infected with COVID-19

RELATED: Gov. Newsom visits USNS after Navy ship arrives in LA

RELATED: USNS Mercy departs from Naval Station San Diego to help fight coronavirus

View all News 8 coverage of coronavirus / COVID-19 
 
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We also have a Frequently Asked Questions page we will continue updating with the latest information and reports.  

Click here to watch "Facts Not Fear," a News 8 Special on coronavirus from March 26, 2020. 

BACKGROUND  

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 

Protect yourself 

  • 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 

Protect 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.