This post has been updated to include the first reported COVID-19 infection of a U.S. Marine.
A sailor in Naples, Italy and a Marine in Virginia have both tested positive for the COVID-19 strain of coronavirus. This marks the first time the virus has been discovered in the Navy and Marine Corps, according to a Saturday statement from U.S. European Command and the Marines.
The sailor, who worked at Naval Support Activity Naples, was found to have the virus on Friday, according to the statement and is the first confirmed case of a U.S. service member in Europe
“The member is currently restricted to their residence, receiving supportive and medical care in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and host nation guidelines,” read the statement.
“Military health professionals are conducting a thorough contact investigation to determine whether any other personnel may have been exposed. Depending on the results of that investigation, additional precautionary measures may be taken. Personnel that the service member immediately identified having close contact with have been notified and are in self-isolation at their residence.”
NSA Naples is home to U.S. Naval Forces Europe and U.S. 6th Fleet. Italy has been among the worst hit by the virus. As of Friday, Italy had 4,636 confirmed cases and 197 deaths, according to a tabulation of cases by Johns Hopkins University.
The Marine was assigned to Ft. Belvoir, Va. just outside of Washington, D.C., the service announced in a late Saturday statement.
“A U.S Marine assigned to Fort Belvoir tested positive today for COVID-19 and is currently being treated at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital,” read the statement.
“The Marine recently returned from overseas where he was on official business. The Secretary of Defense has been briefed. The White House has been notified.”
In addition to the sailor in Naples and the Marine at Ft. Belvoir, the Army confirmed a soldier and his wife in South Korea has been infected with the virus as part of seven cases linked to U.S. Forces Korea, reported Military.com.
The Navy has instituted policies in Europe and Asia to keep ships at sea 14-days between port visits to monitor the crew for signs of infection.
Additionally, the Coast Guard has been integral to the U.S. domestic response to the outbreak.
“We’re intimately involved. About 4,000 ships a month call on the United States. About 750 in the Pacific. We’re screening every one of those ships,” Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz said during a Monday keynote at the WEST 2020 event cohosted by the U.S. Naval Institute and AFCEA.
“Passenger vessels that have less than 14 days (at sea) during that incubation period are being detained at sea. Cargo operations, we’re working with shippers. If there’s a crew member that’s identified [as being infected], we’re working with CDC, we’re working health officials to make sure we’re on top of it.”
On Friday, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said the Pentagon was working through a plan to keep the Department of the Defense running in the event of an outbreak.
“We have a lot of capabilities in this building,” Esper said, according to Military.com. “Our National Military Command Center has the capability to go for weeks at a time if they have to be locked down inside the building if we have some type of outbreak.”
As of Saturday morning, there have been 102,472 confirmed cases worldwide that have resulted in 3,491 deaths, according to Hopkins.
The following is the complete March 7, 2020 EUCOM statement.
NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY NAPLES, Italy —
On Mar. 6, a U.S. Navy Sailor stationed at Naval Support Activity Naples tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19), marking the first positive case of a U.S. service member in Europe.
The member is currently restricted to their residence, receiving supportive and medical care in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and host nation guidelines.
Military health professionals are conducting a thorough contact investigation to determine whether any other personnel may have been exposed. Depending on the results of that investigation, additional precautionary measures may be taken.
Personnel that the service member immediately identified having close contact with have been notified and are in self-isolation at their residence.
We are committed to taking every measure possible to protect the health of our force. We remain in close coordination with Italian authorities, U.S. embassy, and public health authorities to ensure the well-being of our personnel and local population.