Sailors from the USS George H.W. Bush Have COVID-19. The Navy Won't Say How Many

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Sailors aboard USS George H.W. Bush man the rails.
Sailors aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) man the rails as the ship returns to Naval Station Norfolk, Aug. 21, 2020. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Raymond Maddocks)

This article by Jeff Schogol originally appeared on Task & Purpose, a digital news and culture publication dedicated to military and veterans issues.

A "small number" of sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush have tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Naval Air Force Atlantic spokeswoman Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg confirmed on Thursday.

Cragg said she was unable to say exactly how many sailors were sickened with the coronavirus or when they tested positive for the disease due to limits imposed by the Pentagon on what information can be made public.

"The Department of Defense does not release the number of infected individuals at the unit, facility or geographic area level due to operational security," Cragg said in a statement.

Navy Times reporter Geoff Ziezulewicz first revealed that an unspecified number of the aircraft carrier's crew had been diagnosed with the coronavirus and are currently in isolation at home while the ship is undergoing maintenance at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Virginia.

The sailors tested positive for the coronavirus "this summer," said Cragg, who declined to be more specific. Those sailors are receiving daily medical care and support.

"Additionally, USS George H.W. Bush is actively enforcing physical distancing, minimizing group gatherings, wearing PPE [personal protective equipment], and cleaning extensively," Cragg said. "Norfolk Naval Shipyard is conducting temperature checks and screening all personnel with a medical symptoms questionnaire, and if required, referring Sailors with symptoms for medical evaluation."

The coronavirus has shown how shockingly vulnerable Navy ships are to disease outbreaks. On the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, 1,273 sailors became infected with the virus, one of whom died: Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr.

Separately, more than 70 sailors aboard the destroyer USS Kidd tested positive for the coronavirus this spring.

As of July 29, a total of 9,078 Navy sailors, civilians, contractors, and dependents had tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Navy's latest figures. Of those cases, 18 people have died: One sailor, four contractors, and 13 civilians.

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