Navy leadership took the steps after a number of sailors tested positive for the novel coronavirus even after their 14-day isolation period, three crew members told POLITICO. Some of the sailors who recently tested positive had previously tested negative, one Navy official said.
“Results of out-testing portions of the TR crew following 14 days of quarantine leads us to reevaluate our assessment of how the virus can remain active in an asymptomatic host,” according to a Navy directive sent to the crew and viewed by POLITICO.
“While further assessment is made regarding test-out procedures, I am directing a halt to all crew out-testing and holding any release from isolation and quarantine,” the message read.
The Navy had planned to begin returning the crew to a coronavirus-free ship over the next few days with the goal of getting get back underway to continue its deployment.
“The process of moving them back onto the ship was going to start Saturday — that’s what’s getting slowed down as they determine, hey, how do we make sure we are getting this right before we get them back on the ship?” the Navy official said.
As of Monday, the Navy had tested 94 percent of the crew for the virus, with 678 positive and 3,904 negative results. Most of the crew — 4,069 sailors — has been moved ashore and are now spread out between hotels, houses and facilities at the naval base.
But test results in recent days — after the 14-day isolation period — led the Navy to “reevaluate our assessment of how the virus can remain active in an asymptomatic host,” the directive read.