The Coast Guard confirmed Thursday that a crew member from the cutter Midgett tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday, requiring the Coast Guard to work with the state of Hawaii to allow the cutter back in port Thursday after a regional patrol around Hawaii and Oceania.
The affected Coast Guard member had “a few minutes interaction with base personnel last week after coming off the ship and then went home,” Chief Sara Muir, deputy public affairs officer for District 14, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. He has been in self-isolation since March 24 and is reportedly “doing well.”
“We haven’t had any reports otherwise, and we don’t have any reports of illness or symptoms on the ship,” she said, and the cutter is “taking all available precautions and working to identify any individuals who came into contact with this member.”
Muir told the paper that the crew would be screened “to determine if there are any concerns and if anyone needs COVID-19 testing or any kind of isolation or self-quarantine, and then they are tracing back to see if any of that is necessary with the base personnel.”
A contract trace investigation is now underway to determine how the crew member was exposed to COVID-19, which wasn’t immediately clear.
The national security cutter, led by Commander James M. O’Mara IV, was commissioned in August and holds a crew of about 150.
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam said this week that the Hawaii base has cases of coronavirus, but details would not be revealed for operational security reasons.
“Are there any Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam service members that are sick with COVID? The answer is yes. Until recently, we were providing that information,” said Capt. Jeff Bernard.
Bernard said the multi-nation RIMPAC maritime security exercise scheduled for July and August in Hawaii has not been canceled. “RIMPAC is on. RIMPAC is going to happen absolutely positively until you read publicly it is not. Once big Navy decides whether or not it’s going to happen, you will hear about it in the open press,” he said.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt docked in Guam last week after multiple crew members tested positive for COVID-19. The aircraft carrier has a crew of nearly 5,000 and sailors are slowly being released from the ship and placed into isolation; as of Wednesday, 93 had tested positive. Capt. Brett Crozier was stripped of his command after being accused of leaking a letter he sent to Navy leadership sounding the alarm about the spread of the virus on the ship.
Crozier, who warned that “if we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset – our sailors,” received a rousing sendoff of cheers and applause from crew members as he left the vessel Thursday.