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Navy moves nearly 200 to hotels in Annapolis after jump in COVID-19 cases

Navy moves nearly 200 to hotels in Annapolis after jump in COVID-19 cases
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Citing a spike in coronavirus cases, the U.S. Naval Academy has transferred nearly 200 midshipmen to Annapolis, Md., hotels, the academy announced this week.

In separate announcements Monday and Tuesday, the academy said a total of 196 midshipmen would be part of the transfer. The transfers include 98 personnel who have been moved to the Hilton Garden Inn and another 98 shifted to the Graduate Hotel. Both hotels are in downtown Annapolis.

“This is a dynamic situation and decisions are made on a daily basis in a way that prioritizes the healthcare needs of the midshipmen and well-being of our entire Naval Academy community,” Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean Buck said in a Tuesday statement. “I am thankful for the flexibility and adaptability of the Brigade and our entire team here on the Yard and in the local community as we navigate this challenging period, especially the hotels for their responsiveness and hospitality.”  

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Officials told The Washington Post the academy’s spike in case numbers began around Feb. 18, with the timeline suggesting at least some of the cases were the result of Valentine’s Day weekend exposures.

“While it might be satisfying to attribute this to just one variable, or one group, doing so would be an oversimplification,” Jenny Erickson, a spokeswoman for the academy, told the newspaper. “That said, actions taken during liberty that weekend is most likely the primary issue leading to that rise.”

More than 4,500 midshipmen comprise the academy’s student body. Erickson told the Post all those subject to the transfer will lodge with a roommate and be confined to their rooms except for two daily hours of supervised physical activity. They will be prohibited from accepting guests or deliveries.

The academy’s midshipmen will be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine under phase 2 of Maryland’s rollout. Buck told Congress this week that the goal is to begin shots for midshipmen “in the near future.”