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Midshipmen moved to local hotel as cases at Naval Academy spike

Nearly 100 midshipmen recovering from COVID will temporarily move to a hotel in downtown Annapolis to open quarantine and isolation space in Bancroft Hall.

The announcement comes a day after the academy put the midshipmen on a restriction of movement, essentially confining them in their dormitory rooms except for academy-required activities.

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It is unclear how many midshipmen have tested positive for the disease caused by coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The academy could not say how many positive cases because of operational security, spokesperson Cmdr. Alana Garas wrote in an email.

Given that 98 midshipmen are recovering from the disease and are being moved to open isolation at the Hilton Garden Inn on West Street, the academy is at least seeing 2.45% of the brigade diagnosed with the disease.

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Cases doubled between Friday and Sunday, Garas said. The rise started around Feb. 18 and continued to accelerate.

The Naval Academy also announced Sunday night it is pausing all athletic activities except for men’s basketball for 10 days during the restriction of movement order.

The 98 midshipmen recovering from the disease will be housed two to a room, according to the statement released by the academy. They will be monitored twice a day and confined to their rooms except when escorted outdoors for wellness purposes.

Like their fellow midshipmen on the yard, those staying at the hotel will attend classes online and are not allowed guests or food delivery. The 117-room hotel was chosen because of its “robust COVID protocols,” according to the academy.

The academy set aside 130 rooms in Bancroft in the fall as isolation and quarantine space. As a result, the academy rented space at St. Johns College for approximately 380 midshipmen. This semester, approximately 200 midshipmen live off-campus, with family, friends and sponsors, to open space for isolation and quarantine.

Exposure on Valentine’s Day weekend is likely one of the culprits for the increase in cases, Garas said.

“While it might be satisfying to attribute this to just one variable, or one group, doing so would be an oversimplification,” she wrote in the email. “That said, actions taken during liberty that weekend is most likely the primary issue leading to that rise.”

Midshipmen have not been vaccinated yet against the coronavirus, as they are part of Phase 2.

At least 60 new coronavirus infections were detected in Anne Arundel County Monday, and one more county resident has died, according to data from the Maryland Department of Health.

The local positivity rate is 4.64%, and the case rate is 14.9 positive cases per 100,000 residents.

Across the state, at 603 new COVID-19 cases were detected and 10 more Marylanders have died of the virus. The total number of cases detected in the last year is now 382,702, and at least 7,697 people have died. At least 904 people are currently hospitalized, an increase of 36 patients, and the statewide positivity rate is now 3.52%.

The numbers at the academy follow outbreaks at the University of Maryland, College Park last month.

Infections hit about 37 new reports per day in the final week of February, up from an average of about 29 cases reported daily last week. In response, the university issued a “sequester-in-place” mandate for student housing.

Over the weekend, university officials said the number of positive cases had slowed on campus, and the testing positivity rate dropped to about 1.7%. The university officials credited the campus community’s vigilance for curbing the spread.

In-person classes resumed Monday.

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