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7 USNS Mercy Crew Members Test Positive for COVID-19

The USNS Mercy after it arrived at the Port of L.A. on March 27. (Carolyn Cole/AFP via Getty Images)
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Seven crew members onboard the USNS Mercy have tested positive for COVID-19 .

A U.S. Navy spokesperson said the crew members who tested positive are currently isolated off-ship. The people who had close contact with them also remain off-ship in quarantine.

"The ship is following protocols and taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of all crew members and patients on board," the Navy said in a statement.

The 1,000-bed hospital ship came to L.A. to treat patients who don't have COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, to ease the burden on the area’s hospitals.

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Nearly a dozen hospitals have sent patients to the Mercy since its arrival in the Port of Los Angeles.

As of Tuesday, the Mercy has admitted 48 patients and discharged 30 since its arrival, treating them for gunshot wounds, heart failure and pneumonia, among other things.

The Navy said the COVID-19 outbreak among crew members has not affected the ship’s ability to receive patients.

Sal Mercogliano, a professor at Campbell University and a former merchant mariner, said hospital ships like the Mercy aren’t designed to treat viral diseases.

"The issue with doing that onboard a hospital ship is fairly significant because hospital ships are basically floating communities -- they produce their own water, they produce their own air, they produce everything they need onboard the vessel to be self-contained so they can operate far from land," he told Take Two's A Martinez last week.

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