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Marines establish Camp Pendleton task force, coronavirus isolation center

Lance Cpl. Logan Helms, a team leader with Company A, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, adjusts his protective mask during an isolation exercise at Combat Center Range 200 Feb. 9 (Cpl. R Logan Kyle/WikiCommons)

Marines at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton have established a task force and an isolation center to monitor and respond to the spread of COVID-19 among Marines on the West Coast, the Corps announced Tuesday.

The isolation center — officially called the Task Force Medical Isolation and Observation Center Camp Pendleton — can house up to 200 Marines and sailors affected by COVID-19.

No one is currently isolated at the facility, according to Gunnery Sgt. Warren Peace, a Marine Corps spokesman, but it is ready to do so if needed.

More than 42,000 active-duty military personnel work on the base, which covers more than 125,000 acres sandwiched between Oceanside and Orange County. It is the largest Marine Corps base on the West Coast.

The task force is a joint effort of I Marine Expeditionary Force, which is based at Camp Pendleton, and Marine Corps Installations West.

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The isolation center is comprised of single-occupancy dorm rooms and will house service members who have either tested positive for COVID-19 or been diagnosed as such by medical authorities, a Marine Corps statement said.

“All personnel housed at the MIOC aboard Camp Pendleton will be monitored daily by trained medical personnel and provided food, water and appropriate living accommodations until they are no longer symptomatic and their restriction of movement period ends,” a I MEF statement said. “The measures are both precautionary and preventative in nature.”

One Marine at Camp Pendleton has so far tested positive for the virus while a second was quarantined after traveling to Washington state with a Marine based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar who tested positive.

That Marine was the first service member in the county to test positive, on March 12. Since then, 26 more active-duty military members have tested positive.

On Friday, the Navy announced it would stop naming individual ships with positive cases.

Since Sunday, the Navy has announced 14 additional San Diego sailors have tested positive for COVID-19, including 2 Naval Special Warfare Command sailors from Naval Base Coronado. A Navy spokesman declined to say whether the two are Navy SEALs.

Another local sailor, assigned to a San Diego-based squadron, has also tested positive, the Navy announced late Tuesday.

Here is the Union-Tribune’s running tally of positive cases among local military members:

10 sailors on unnamed ships3 sailors from a Naval Base San Diego schoolhouse3 sailors at Naval Medical Center San Diego3 Marines at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar2 sailors assigned to the USS Boxer2 sailors at Naval Special Warfare Command at Naval Base Coronado1 sailor assigned to the USS Coronado1 sailor assigned to Naval Air Forces at naval Air Station North Island1 Marine at Camp Pendleton1 sailor assigned to an unnamed squadron in San DiegoWith 27 of the county’s 242 cases of COVID-19, the military accounts for about 11 percent of all cases countywide according the latest available numbers Tuesday.

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© 2020 The San Diego Union-Tribune