Crew member aboard hospital ship Mercy tests positive for COVID-19

Local News

A crew member has tested positive for COVID-19 on board the USNS Mercy docked at the Port of Los Angeles, according to the U.S. Navy.

The person has been placed in isolation aboard the hospital ship and will soon be transferred to an “off-ship isolation facility where they will self-monitor for severe symptoms,” Lt. Andrew Bertucci, a public affairs officer for the Navy, said in an email.

“This will not affect the ability for Mercy to receive patients,” Bertucci wrote.

Officials did not comment on where they suspect the crew member could have been exposed to the virus.

The ship docked at the Port of L.A. late last month and has been treating patients not suffering from COVID-19, in a bid to alleviate strain on local hospitals.

At a news briefing with Gov. Gavin Newsom held the day the Mercy arrived, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti described the ship and its surroundings as a “COVID-19-free bubble” that no one infected would breach. 

Newsom said the crew wouldn’t be “recreating nearby.”

“There are strict protocols and procedures. No one can just randomly come in, come off this ship,” Newsom said. “Everybody has been tested, and we have very strict protocols.”

It’s unclear how many patients are currently aboard the vessel, or how many could have been exposed. Officials did not provide details on the role the crew member held.

The Mercy is manned by “medical and support staff assembled from 22 commands, as well as more than 70 civil service mariners,” according to a Navy news release.

Bertucci said the ship is “following protocols and taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of all crewmembers and patients on board.”

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