- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper on Monday suggested that the outbreak of COVID-19 abroad the USS Kidd could have come from a counter-drug operation.

The 350-person Navy destroyer had been stationed off the coast of South America and was assigned to counter-drug missions, but it has since been docked in San Diego after dozens of crew members tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

“We’re not sure where she picked it up, it may have been through a counter-drug operation,” Mr. Esper said during a webinar hosted by the Brookings Institution in Washington.

According to the latest information released by the Navy on April 28, at least 64 crew members have tested positive, and 15 sailors have been medically evacuated. But new reports suggest that the number of cases on board could be nearly 100.

The USS Kidd is the second Navy ship to see an outbreak of coronavirus among its crew members. At least 940 crew members of the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for the virus, and 29 have recovered as of last Tuesday. The Roosevelt has since been docked in Guam.

“Of the 90-plus ships we have at sea, we only have two that have been affected,” Mr. Esper said. “Two ships out of I think 94 is a pretty good record.”

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