Navy sailor assigned to US Central Command headquarters tests positive for coronavirus

Navy sailor assigned to US Central Command headquarters tests positive for coronavirus
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A Navy sailor assigned to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) headquarters has tested positive for the coronavirus.

CENTCOM announced Saturday that the sailor, who tested positive for the virus Friday, had returned to the U.S. from overseas on March 15 and “immediately” entered a precautionary quarantine at his residence. He did not stop at CENTOM before returning home.

The sailor began exhibiting symptoms on March 18, at which point he went to the health clinic at Macdill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla.

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“The Sailor will receive all appropriate medical care and treatment,” said CENTCOM spokesperson Capt. Bill Urban. “We are committed to taking every measure possible to protect the health of our force. We remain in close coordination with state and federal authorities, and public health authorities to ensure the well-being of our personnel and the local population.”

The news comes a day after the Air Force announced an active-duty airman and an Air Force contractor who both visited the Pentagon in recent weeks have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The active-duty member works for the Defense Health Agency in Falls Church, Va., and was in the Pentagon “for less than an hour” on Monday. The contractor was last in the Pentagon on March 2, according to the Air Force, and has been self-quarantining and receiving medical treatment since March 7.

“We continue to ask our personnel to take actions to protect themselves and those around them by employing protective measures including practicing good hygiene, social distancing, and taking appropriate actions if experiencing symptoms of an illness. These measures can dramatically decrease the risk of infection and slow COVID-19’s spread,” the Air Force said. 

The Pentagon also said Friday it is monitoring 2,600 military personnel in Europe for possible exposure to the coronavirus. Thirty-five of the 72,000 U.S. forces in Europe have tested positive for the illness.

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, announced changes Friday to operations at CENTCOM headquarters to protect against the virus, including prioritizing social distancing and maximizing use of tele-work and shift work.