Latest update: 0700JST, 17 Apr 2020
YCAPS President John Bradford, a Council on Foreign Relations-Hitachi Fellow at Japan's National Graduate Institute of Policy Studies, is keeping this log of major news events involving COVID-19 and its impacts on the U.S. 7th Fleet and the U.S. Navy bases in Japan. The goal is to focus create a simple reference with links to original documents or, when those are not available, neutral fact-based reporting. Please send requests for information or recommendation for edits and updates to email@example.com. Members of the base communities in Japan should not rely on this for guidance, but instead follow the instructions and recommendations of government authorities and, in the case of military personnel, their chain of command.
28 Feb - the Pacific Fleet Commander announced that his ships would stay at sea for 14 days between port visits and not allow liberty if a crew member was showing symptoms. https://www.stripes.com/news/pacific/pacific-fleet-orders-14-day-gap-between-port-visits-for-7th-fleet-ships-during-coronavirus-outbreak-1.6206415
28 Feb - the CDC declares Japan a level 2 country: Practice Enhanced Precautions.
5-9 Mar- Theodore Roosevelt makes a port visit to Danang (https://www.cpf.navy.mil/news.aspx/130563). The was the second time a CVN had visited Vietnam post-war and was timed to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the normalization of relations between the United States and Vietnam. Prior to the port visit, the WHO had only identified 20 COVID-19 case in Vietnam, all in Hanoi. Chris Sharman, previous the U.S. Naval Attaché in Vietnam offered his analysis of this event: “Even Coronavirus Couldn’t Stop the 2nd US Carrier Visit to Vietnam.”
8 Mar - Vietnamese media reports that 9 COVID-19 cases in Vietnam, including two British tourist in Danag where Theodore Roosevelt is docked.
11 Mar - SECDEF issues a 14-day self-quarantine for all DoD-personnel traveling to, from or via CDC Travel Health Notice Level 2 (COVID-19) countries.
13 Mar – SECDEF directs stop movement for all family members to CDC Travel Health Notice Level 2 (COVID-19) designated countries for 60 days.
16 Mar – The City of Yokosuka confirms its first COVID-19 case, a 70-year old woman working as a nurse. The base directs the gate guards to stop touching the IDs being shown for entry.
19 Mar- DoD schools in Japan announced they will be closed and teaching students remotely 23 Mar- 13 Apr (later revised to indefinite closure). https://www.stripes.com/news/pacific/dodea-announces-japan-school-closures-as-two-students-await-coronavirus-test-results-1.622963
20 Mar- DoD authorizes civilian employees and eligible family members at high risk of poor health outcome if exposed to COVID-10 to depart their duty stations. Authorized departure is a voluntary program whereby U.S. government employees and eligible dependents that are stationed abroad are permitted to depart a foreign area at government expense
22 Mar- CDC puts Japan at Warning Level 3: Avoid Nonessential Travel
23 Mar- some restaurants on the Yokosuka base change their service to take-out only. Base barbershop announces its closure for the next 14 days.
22 Mar - According to CNO, the first Sailor onboard Theodore Roosevelt test positive for COVID-19. Shortly thereafter two sailors with COVID-19 symptoms and positive tests were flown off the ship to the naval hospital in Guam
25 Mar – Commander Naval Forces Japan implements INDO-PACOM’s setting of Health Protection Condition C. Sailors were told to just travel between work and home. No liberty is allowed. “All off-base restaurants, bars, cafes, night clubs and like establishments, indoor fitness facilities, onsens and public baths are off limits.” Off-base taxis are forbidden from entering the Yokosuka base.
26 Mar - a Sailor on the Yokosuka base tests positive for COVID-19. He had come to Japan from the US on 15 Mar and had been isolated since arrival in accordance with the 11 Mar DoD guidance.
26 Mar - the cruiser Antietam returned up to Yokosuka, but the crew was held onboard, presumably to prevent cross-contamination. Boxes were placed on the pier where people could drop things off for the Sailors onboard.
27 Mar – after two additional Sailors (bringing the total to 3) on the U.S. Navy base in Yokosuka tested positive, the base commander ordered a shelter in place: only essential personnel go to work, all hands stay inside except for essential shopping and medical care. For the weekend, the commissary was open, but the exchange was shut (the only source for nicotine or alcohol sales!), individuals who reside on base generally weren’t allowed to exit, and outdoor exercise was forbidden on the base. Since then the shelter in place has been extended, but some exchange services have been restored, outdoor runs are allowed, and kids living in apartments can play in open spaces (playgrounds remain shut). https://www.stripes.com/news/pacific/two-more-yokosuka-based-sailors-test-positive-for-coronavirus-commander-orders-base-to-shelter-in-place-1.623910
27 Mar -Theodore Roosevelt arrives in Guam for what the Navy states is a scheduled port visit.
27 Mar -U.S. Army Japan reveals its first positive coronavirus case, a dependent who had been restricted to quarters since returning from the United States on March 19.
30 Mar - Caitlin Doornbos confirmed earlier reports that 2 Sailors who had tested positive for COVID-19 were from the Yokosuka carrier Ronald Reagan which had been inport Yokosuka for maintenance since Nov 2019.
31 Mar - The U.S. Navy announces that RIMPAC is still being planned, even though BALIKATAN had been cancelled and the 2,500-man USMC training deployment to Australia delayed. Here is the Stars & Stripes report in this topic.
2 Apr – Acting SECNAV Modly, announces his decision to relieve the Commanding Officer of USS Theodore Roosevelt, Captain Crozier, for loss of trust and confidence and that, the Chief of Naval Operations has directed the Vice Chief of Naval Operations to conduct an investigation into the circumstances and climate of the entire Pacific Fleet.
3 Apr – The Sasebo Base Commander reports that a COVID-19 case on the base said that the person have been in quarantine “since they arrived in Sasebo.” Sasebo City is reported as now having three cases.
3 Apr – The Makin Island Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG) sails from San Diego after a 14-day quarantine period with bespoke social distancing procedures and preplanned responses designed for optimum readiness during the pandemic. Reports state the ARG will be doing workup exercises.
6 Apr – Acting SecNav Modly visits the Theodore Roosevelt and addresses the entire crew via the 1MC general announcing system. Transcripts quickly go viral on social media and are cover by traditional news outlets. A recording is available here on Soundcloud.
6 Apr – The U.S. Forces Japan commander announced a Public Health Emergency for the Kanto Plains region. The declaration expands commanders authorities to enforce compliance health protection measures among military, civilians, and contractors who live and work on U.S. installations.
6 Apr – President Trump was asked about Modly’s speech on Theodore Roosevelt. “I may just get involved… You have two good people and they’re arguing. I’m good, believe it or not, at settling arguments,” Trump told reporters, “I may look into it in detail and I will be able to figure it out very fast.” Sam LaGrone’s report.
7 Apr – The Yokosuka base begins limiting non-mission essential personnel access to the base to 0900-1900. Non-missional essential movement are only allowed for specific activities. These must be declared to the sentries and logged with a tracking form. https://www.facebook.com/cfayokosuka/photos/pcb.10158451101399187/10158451098299187/?type=3&theater
7 Apr – Naval Air Facility Atsugi issues a shelter-in-place with only mission-essential person being allowed to work and visits for essential goods and services being limited to regular business hours.
7 Apr – Acting SECNAV Modly submits his resignation to SecDef. SecDef appoints current Army Undersecretary Jim McPherson as acting Secretary of the Navy. LaGrone’s report includes both original letters. Acting SECNAV Modly also sends a final message to all commands in the Navy (ALNAV 038/20) explaining his actions and providing guidance on making communications appropriately visible.
8 Apr – Stars & Stripes' Caitlin Doornbos reports that across the Navy, 548 service members have contracted the illness. 286 of those are Roosevelt sailors, the update said. Nearly all the ship’s crew has been tested, with 10% coming back positive. None have been hospitalized.
9 Apr – A Theodore Roosevelt COVID-19 sailor was admitted to the Naval Hospital Guam ICU. Theodore Roosevelt COVID-19 tests show 416 positive cases (187 symptomatic and 229 asymptomatic) and 3,170 negative results.
13 Apr – 1st crewmember of Theodore Roosevelt dies of COVID-19 complications. This is the second death of a DoD-related individual. The Navy report indicates it is the same patient who was moved to ICU on 9 Apr.
13 Apr - DoD data shows that the number of U.S. military-linked individuals had tested positive for COVID-19 has reached 4,500 and that there has been a 26% spike in cases reported since 10 Apr.
13 Apr – Japanese and Taiwan Ministries of Defense report that a Chinese aircraft carrier passed from the East China Sea through the Miyako Strait and east of Taiwan. Both the JMSDF and Taiwan Navies are reported as having reacted by assigning escort forces. According to the US Navy facebook page, USS America is operating with F-35s onboard in the East China Sea.
13 Apr – According to a Stars & Stripes report, the U.S. base command officer in Sasebo shared via Facebook that he had barred two civilians from the base after violating rules. One was a spouse working in a bar in violation of standing SOFA-related rules. The other was patronizing the bar in violation of pandemic-related restrictions. Note: The USFJ Public Health Emergency is only for the Kanto Plain bases so does not include Sasebo.
15 Apr – Defense Secretary Esper says in an interview with Fox News that the USS Theodore Roosevelt could be back at sea in weeks. He also says that the investigation into the handling of COVID-19 on the carrier was completed last week. The Navy announces COVID-19 cases among the crew increases to 615 sailors with an additional Sailor being hospitalized. Stars & Stripes report.
16 Apr – The Navy confirms that the Theodore Roosevelt Sailor who died was 41-year old Aviation Ordnanceman Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr. Thacker is the first U.S. active-duty service member to die from the global COVID-19 pandemic.