State and Pacific region briefs for January 31

Navy reports COVID-19 cases aboard Pearl Harbor destroyer

HONOLULU — The Navy has announced about a dozen personnel assigned to a Pearl Harbor destroyer, now in San Diego, have tested positive for COVID-19 and were removed from the ship.


Cmdr. Sean Robertson said that crew members aboard the USS Chafee who were in close contact with the infected sailors are also off the ship and in quarantine while monitoring symptoms. None of the sailors have been hospitalized.

“To reassure sailors and their families, all Chafee sailors will be tested today,” Robertson said, adding that there are about 350 people on the destroyer. “The ship remains able to meet its mission.”

The announcement came a few months after about a quarter of the crew of the Pearl Harbor destroyer USS Michael Murphy tested positive for COVID-19 in November.

That vessel was doing local operations but was in port when the virus was detected. At the time, the Navy said there were no hospitalizations, but all close contacts and nonessential crew members underwent a two-week self-isolation period.

Several COVID-19 cases were also reported on the Pearl Harbor destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer, officials said.

The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command reported in November that the number of confirmed cases within the military community in Hawaii was “a little below 7%” of the state’s total since the pandemic began in March.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in the military are reported within the daily state totals, but a military breakdown is not made public. The Pentagon claimed doing so could communicate to foes where they were hardest hit.

Guam health workers make efforts to avoid wasting vaccine

HAGATNA, Guam — Health workers at clinics in Guam have distributed coronavirus vaccine to residents who are not in current priority groups to prevent unused doses from being wasted.

The Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services said the U.S. territory has not yet wasted any virus doses even though some vials have been opened when there were not people in priority groups waiting to receive the shots.

Those currently approved to receive the vaccine in Guam include health care and child care workers, police officers, firefighters, bus drivers, school employees, disabled and homeless residents and people age 60 and older.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could reduce the island’s vaccine allotment if the agency becomes aware of wasted doses, spokeswoman Janela Carrera said Thursday.

“Even if there are some people who have received a dose who don’t necessarily meet the eligibility criteria, in our eyes, we would rather have someone protected than not protected from the virus and it did not go to waste,” Carrera said.

The Pfizer vaccine vial has five doses, while the Moderna vial has 10 doses. Once opened, there are time limits for the vaccines to be used, Carrera said.

If open vials have remaining doses when a clinic is about to close or has already closed, clinicians will administer shots to people outside the priority groups, Carrera said.

Those who have received the vaccine who are not in priority groups include caregivers for older residents, people under 60 and health staff who do not deal directly with patients, Carrera said.


“We can absolutely defend that, absolutely justifiable in an instance where a dose might otherwise go to waste,” Carrera said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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