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Guam Nervously Takes In Quarantined Roosevelt Crew

Rooms are set aside for up to 4,000 sailors
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 12, 2020 12:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – People in Guam are used to a military presence on the strategic Pacific island, but some are uneasy as sailors from a coronavirus-stricken Navy aircraft carrier flood hotels for quarantine. Officials insist they have enforced strict safety measures, the AP reports. An outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt began in late March and has thrust the Navy into a leadership crisis after the ship's commander urged faster action to protect his sailors. The carrier has been docked in the US territory for more than a week as the 4,865-person crew is tested for the virus and moved ashore. More than 400 sailors have been confirmed infected, and one was hospitalized Thursday in intensive care, officials said. More than 1,700 sailors who have tested negative are isolating in hotels, while the sick remain on base, Navy officials said.

"Our people are getting slapped in the face," said Hope Cristobal, who lives near hotels in Tumon and worries officials are making promises about safety they won’t keep. "We don’t know exactly where they're being housed." Mary Rhodes, president of the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association, wouldn't identify the hotels but said as many as 10 are set aside to house up to 4,000 sailors. Each is staying in a room stocked with two weeks' worth of linens, towels and water, she said. There is no contact with hotel workers, and only military police and medical teams can visit. The Navy has sent masks, gloves and other safety equipment to the hotels, where employees make food that military personnel deliver, Rhodes said. Not including the sailors, Guam had 133 confirmed coronavirus cases and five deaths as of Saturday. "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,’" Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said in announcing the plan April 1. "We can protect Guam while being humane to them."

(Read more coronavirus stories.)

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