The destroyer with its crew of 350 are off the Pacific coast of South America. Its current mission is related to U.S. counter-drug activities.
In a statement issued Saturday, the Navy said an embarked medical team continues testing of the Kidd’s crew. Two sailors have been medically evacuated to the United States. Meanwhile, officials say those aboard the Kidd are wearing N95 masks and other personal protective equipment.
The Navy says the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island is en route to rendezvous with Kidd in case medical support is required at sea. Officials say the Makin Island has a fleet surgical team, intensive care capacity and ventilators as well as additional testing capability.
The Kidd is the second Navy ship at sea to report an outbreak of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus. Officials say the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt has reported more than 850 cases of infection among its nearly 5,000 crew members. Most of its crew has been moved ashore to quarantine on Guam.
The Pentagon is focusing first on testing those performing duties deemed most vital to national security. Atop the list are the men and women who operate the nation’s nuclear forces, some counterterrorism forces, and the crew of a soon-to-deploy aircraft carrier.
Defense leaders hope to increase testing from the current rate of about 7,000 a day to 60,000 by June. This will enable them to test those showing symptoms as well as those who do not.
The current tight supply forced the Pentagon to take a phased approach, which includes testing sailors aboard the USS Nimitz, the Bremerton, Washington-based Navy carrier next in line to head to the Pacific. Officials hope to avoid a repeat of problems that plagued the virus-stricken USS Theodore Roosevelt.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper recently approved the tiered approach. It expands the Pentagon’s practice of testing mainly those who show symptoms of the virus to eventually testing everyone.
The Associated Press contributed to this report