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Verissimo, a career aviator, took command of the strike group June 9, 2020, as Roosevelt operated in the Philippine Sea. It was a month after the carrier had returned to sea after it was stuck in Guam due to the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 virus among crew members in early March 2020, just two months after departing San Diego for its scheduled deployment to the Indo-Pacific. Medical researchers began initial testing while the Navy, and the rest of the U.S. And world, implemented strict measures and travel restrictions to stem the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.
Lessons from that earlier experience battling the virus, which ultimately infected 1,200 Roosevelt crew members, helped shape the Navy’s approach to fight the coronavirus and help prevent new outbreaks as Roosevelt and the rest of the strike group again came together to train for the new deployment.
“We really learned how to mitigate that risk,” Verissimo said. Initially, “there was some confusion on what we really needed to do. But as a team on the deckplate, the sailors were tight, they worked together. There was no doubt that the shipmate to the left and to the right didn’t have each other’s backs. So I was pretty confident in the team.”
“Being the first to have an outbreak, we learned and were very smart on how to deal with it,” Verissimo said, noting the unique challenges of dealing with virus spread in the tight, closed environment of a ship at sea.
Roosevelt crews began their pre-deployment quarantine on Nov. 16. “Some” of the 5,400 personnel aboard the carrier tested positive for COVID, he said, “and we made sure that didn’t spread and we’d have additional cases as we came together. We did that successfully, and that’s no small task. That was a major mission accomplishment right off the bat. So that installed a little bit of confidence in fighting the virus.”
After a “quick trip to Guam, we took on nearly 250 additional pe