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Guam to quarantine US forces in hotel rooms amid covid-19 spread

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in the Pacific Ocean on May 4, 2018.

The US island territory of Guam says it will provide American forces onboard an aircraft carrier battling a covid-19 outbreak with hotel rooms to quarantine as Washington scrambles with the coronavirus pandemic.

Rear Admiral John Menoni, commander of the Navy’s Joint Region Marianas, made the announcement at a news conference Wednesday.

“The plan at this time is to remove as many people off the USS Teddy Roosevelt as we can, understanding that we have to leave a certain amount of folks on board to do normal watchstanding duties to keep the ship running,” he said.

Disembarking the crew is essential in combating the spread of the virus, the commanding officer of the Roosevelt, Captain Brett Crozie suggested in a letter, pleading for permission to offload a majority of the more than 4,000-person crew.

“We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die,” Crozier wrote. “If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our sailors,” Crozie said.

According to Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero, the Navy can move sailors who have tested negative for the virus to hotel rooms.

“We have an interest in protecting our community and stopping the spread of covid-19 just as much as the military has an obligation to return the USS Roosevelt to the open ocean to protect Guam and the region,” Guerrero said. “I know there will be a small chorus of cynics who will oppose this decision but now is not the time for ‘us versus them.’”

Menoni also vowed that the Navy would make efforts to protect the people of Guam.

“We’d like to start this as soon as we can, however we’re not going to start it without a good process and procedures in place to protect the people of Guam,” he said.

The announcement came amid fears of the fast-spreading virus across the United States.

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