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Sailors aboard Virginia Beach-based USS Carter Hall test positive for COVID-19

A landing craft air cushion hovercraft debarks USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) during Amphibious Ready Group Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercise off the coast of Onslow Beach, North Carolina. (U.S. Marine Corps)

Sailors aboard the USS Carter Hall tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus last month and are undergoing a restriction of movement.

The crew of the dock landing ship homeported at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story had been tested “in order to ensure the crew was a healthy, surge-capable force ready to respond in the upcoming hurricane season,” Lt. Cmdr. Amelia Umayam, a Navy spokeswoman, said in an email.

Results for multiple COVID-19-positive sailors came back May 23, she said. She would not confirm the specific number of cases on the ship, citing Department of Defense policy issued in March that says individual military installations are no longer allowed to tell the public specifics about COVID-19 cases.

The Carter Hall crew members were moved ashore for the restriction of movement and are being checked on each day by leadership as well as receiving food and essential item deliveries, Umayam said.

An unspecified portion of the crew remains on board to clean and maintain in-port watchstanding requirements, she said. They are supposed to be physically distancing from each other, minimizing gatherings, wearing face coverings and cleaning extensively.

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The positive test results came less than a week before more than 100 members of the Fighting Blacklions strike fighter squadron were removed from the USS Gerald R. Ford for similar reasons. Those sailors were placed into a “precautionary restriction of movement” after one sailor, who was not on the ship but had contact with other squadron members, tested positive for COVID-19. The Ford went underway shortly after.

The Navy has more than 2,500 cases of the illness in its active ranks, as of Wednesday.

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© 2020 The Virginian-Pilot