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U.S. Navy's Top Officer Self-Quarantines After COVID-19 Exposure

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Adm. Gilday, left, in a visit to the Navy's Recruit Training Center in Great Lakes, Illinois last week (USN)

By The Maritime Executive 05-11-2020 09:44:23

The U.S. Navy's top officer, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, has entered self-quarantine after learning that he came into contact with a family member who had tested positive for COVID-19. 

According to the Pentagon, Gilday tested negative for the virus on Friday, but he will remain in quarantine for at least the remainder of the week. He was absent from a high-profile meeting of senior military leaders at the White House on Saturday. 

Gilday's recent travel itinerary included a visit to Recruit Training Command (RTC) at Training Support Center Great Lakes, where he joined Acting Secretary of the Navy James E. McPherson to see how RTC has adjusted to the COVID-19 era. In photos of the tour released by the Navy, Adm. Gilday is seen wearing a mask. “COVID-19 has tested our Navy and required us to make hard choices, especially at Great Lakes,” said Gilday in a statement after the visit. “Seeing the tremendous efforts you all are making here to ensure health and safety of the force as we train our future sailors is inspiring."

Gilday's self-quarantine period comes as the U.S. Defense Department’s Inspector General launches a review of the Navy's COVID-19 management practices on ships and subs. The audit will assess whether "mitigation measures that are effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 were implemented across the fleet."

The Navy has experienced challenges with COVID-19 outbreaks on board its ships. On the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, over 1,100 crewmembers (out of 4,800 total) eventually tested positive for the virus. Aboard the destroyer USS Kidd, at least 78 crewmembers contracted the virus, forcing the vessel to return to port. 

The Navy ceased reporting case numbers for these individual ships at the end of April, saying that it will "only report significant changes on these vessels and new cases on any other deployed vessels.”