Shipboard

Navy changes guidelines for shipboard COVID measures to comply with updated CDC advice

A group of petty officers first class take the Navy-wide Advancement Exam, Commander Fleet Activities Sasebo, Jan. 25. In accordance with Navy guidance, CFAS Sailors take the NWAE over a three-day trial period allowing smaller groups of test-takers to maintain adequate social distancing as part of continued mitigation measures COVID-19. US NAVY / Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jeremy Graham

ARLINGTON, Va. — The United States Navy has updated guidance for commanders on keeping COVID-19 infections off ships and what to do if prevention measures fail.

The latest Standard Operating Guidelines (5.0), issued by Vice Admiral William Merz, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans and Strategy, makes changes to how long sailors test positive for coronavirus. should be isolated based on the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The guidelines, released Jan. 15, include information for commanders on restricting movement, when to test and quarantine sailors. It also streamlines health protection measures for ships.

After the massive COVID outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt in 2020 that sidelined the aircraft carrier in Guam for months, Navy leaders determined “our advice to our commanders was insufficient, that we really needed to be much more detailed, that we needed to consult with scientists and environmental experts “about how to operate effectively in a contained environment during a pandemic,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday said at Surface Navy Association symposium on January 11,

“It is my responsibility to provide the most capable force and this guidance helps us maximize mission readiness,” Merz said in an Aug. 26 statement on the new guidance. “Immunizations, vaccine boosters, command commitment and personal accountability are the foundation of our success in the fight against COVID.”

The announcement came the same day the Navy revealed it had fired 23 other sailors for refusing vaccination, bringing the total to 45 expelled since the vaccination deadline expired at the end of 2021.

The new Navy guidelines, which apply to all Navy personnel in uniform “at home and deployed”, reduce the isolation time for sailors who test positive for COVID but show no symptoms or illnesses. greatly improving – such as no fever for 24 hours – to five days, although they must wear masks for another five days to minimize the risk of infecting others.

The CDC said the change “is driven by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in illness, typically within 1-2 days before symptom onset and within 2 -3 days later”. Although vaccine boosters are not yet necessary, Navy guidelines have recommended them “because all studies agree on the need for a vaccine booster to provide lasting protection.” The booster “has essentially become the next move in a series and will likely become mandatory in the near future,” according to the guidelines.

However, the guidelines claimed that Navy Surgeon General Rear Adm. Bruce Gillingham is the Navy’s authority on COVID-19 measures. Changes to CDC guidelines on virus behavior must first be evaluated by Gillingham “prior to fleet implementation.”

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