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60% of infected sailors on USS Theodore Roosevelt were free of symptoms after 94% of 4,800 tested: Reuters


aircraft carrier by David Mark courtesy of

Reuters published a report about the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt stranded in port on Guam on April 16.  The Navy has nearly completed testing of all 4,800 sailors on board– 94%– and says that 60% of positive tests (for virus RNA in secretions) were in people who reported no symptoms of COVID-19.  This high rate of asymptomatic “carriers” of the virus indicates that previous reports of 25%-50% were underestimates, at least in this relatively young and healthy population.

We need to have nearly universal testing to determine how many people in the US have (or have had) the new virus.  This will include antibody testing to find people who have carried the virus and are now recovered.  Without such testing, we will not be able to reassure the public that it is safe to come out of hiding.

With about 3.1 million tests performed as of Tuesday and 145,000 tests a day, we are far from this goal.  Shortages of testing materials continue, and commercial labs have been unable to perform as many tests as they have capacity.  We are not out of the woods yet; in fact, we’re in the rough, so to speak.


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