NORFOLK, Va. - The Navy is laying out the "new normal" way forward with operations in a COVID-19 world.
The Navy has been the hardest-hit military service from the novel coronavirus, with outbreaks at sea on the USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Kidd sidelining those ships mid-deployment.
Both ships have now resumed their scheduled deployments, with the Kidd leaving San Diego yesterday.
Lessons learned from those ships have helped the Navy craft new guidance on how to sustain operations at sea while fighting any future outbreaks.
Across the fleet, the Navy is shifting to a symptoms-based recovery strategy which it believes will allow ships and other units that do experience outbreaks to more quickly return to normal operations.
Vice Admiral Phillip Sawyer has been coordinating the Navy's response to COVID-19.
"Protecting the total workforce remains our top priority. At the same time the Navy is still answering the call to defend the nation, protect sea lanes, and assist those in need. The Navy will continue to operate in this ‘new normal’ environment with COVID, but won’t be limited in our ability to respond to whatever our Nation needs," Sawyer said in a statement.
Learning from the Theodore Roosevelt outbreak, the Navy has refined prevention and mitigation efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 when found on a ship.
As a result, crews on other ships have been able to contain positive COVID-19 cases to small groups, allowing planned operations to continue.
The new Standard Operational Guidance was issued on May 27 to provide instructions on isolation, quarantine, and contact tracing during an outbreak.