American Legion Daily News Clips 4.1.20

Good morning Folks, today is April 1, 2020 and I keep hoping that Tom Brady and the Patriots jointly announce their funny joke they played on me by announcing he was leaving. Doesn’t seem all that funny to me, but I’m no comedian.

Your somewhat inspirational quote from this days clips comes from Bill Kelly, a 95-year-old World War II:

“I survived the foxholes of Guam, I can get through this coronavirus bulls—t.”

Amen brother. (Clip below)

Random facts to share with your fellow castaways who are no doubt as tired of these factoids as you are of hearing them crying about who is playing with the Paw Patrol Trucks (I may be projecting here):

  • "Dreamt" is the only word in the English language that ends with "mt."
  • If you open your eyes in a pitch-black room, the color you’ll see is called "eigengrau."
  • A group of hippos is called a "bloat."


Military Times: Theodore Roosevelt captain makes urgent plea for individual quarantine sites as COVID-19 cases multiply

Defense News: Pacific Fleet Commander outlines plans for containing outbreak on carrier Roosevelt

NYT: Coronavirus Spreads in Veterans’ Home, Leaving ‘Shuddering Loss for Us All’

Military Times: ‘I survived Guam, I can get through this bulls–t’ — WWII vet, 95, makes full recovery from COVID-19

Stripes: Facing surge of patients, New Orleans VA transfers veterans to Mississippi Army Asks 10,000 Recently Separated Soldiers to Come Back for Virus Fight

If you wish to be removed from this email list, kindly email me at mseavey with “Remove from Daily Clips” in the subject line. If you have received this from someone who forwarded it and would like to be added, email me at mseavey and I will promptly add you to the list, that you might get the daily American Legion News.

Military Times: Theodore Roosevelt captain makes urgent plea for individual quarantine sites as COVID-19 cases multiply

Diana Stancy Correll and Valerie Insinna

18 hours ago

The commanding officer of aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt is urging the Navy to step up its response to COVID-19 and secure individualized isolation for the ship’s crew as COVID-19 cases aboard the ship continue to multiply, according to a new report.

While most of the Roosevelt crew remains in cramped quarters aboard the carrier, a small percentage of sailors are starting to move into group quarantine sites on shore in Guam to limit the spread of the virus — and only one of these sites is in compliance with NAVADMIN guidance.

As a result, current efforts to combat COVID-19 are inadequate, according to the Roosevelt’s commanding officer Capt. Brett Crozier.

Crozier argued that the group quarantine sites would merely delay the spread of COVID-19 in a letter to Navy officials on Monday, obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle. Likewise, he noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center advise against group quarantine, and instead suggest individual quarantine.

“Sailors do not need to die,” Crozier wrote in the letter. “If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors.”

Crozier said the situation would be different in a time of conflict, because “in combat we are willing to take certain risks that are not acceptable in peacetime.”

“However, we are not at war, and therefore cannot allow a single Sailor to perish as a result of this pandemic unnecessarily,” Crozier wrote. “Decisive action is required now in order to comply with CDC and (Navy) guidance and prevent tragic outcomes.”

The Navy first announced on March 24 that three sailors aboard the carrier had tested positive for COVID-19, and Navy officials told Navy Times 40 sailors had tested positive for the virus as of Monday.

But those numbers could be much higher. An anonymous senior officer on the Roosevelt told the San Francisco Chronicle that as many as 200 sailors aboard the Roosevelt had tested positive for COVID-10.

According to Crozier, there are two options moving forward: either fail to achieve a COVID-19-free ship and “fight sick,” or strictly follow guidelines from the CDC to wipe out COVID-19 from the ship.

Under Crozier’s proposal, approximately 10 percent of the Roosevelt crew would remain on board to operate the reactor plant and sanitize the ship, among other things. The rest would be individually isolated off the ship.

“Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure. … This is a necessary risk,” Crozier wrote. “Keeping over 4,000 young men and women on board the TR is an unnecessary risk and breaks faith with those Sailors entrusted to our care.”

The Pacific Fleet did not respond to a request for comment from the San Francisco Chronicle before deadline, and did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Military Times.

In an interview with CBS News reporter Norah O’Donnell Tuesday night, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he hadn’t read Crozier’s letter, but did not think the ship need to be evacuated. He added that tests and personal

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas said that the Navy “doesn’t disagree” with Crozier, and noted that the Navy has been working to remove sailors from the Roosevelt for days. But limited space in Guam is created some challenges, he said.

“The problem is that Guam doesn’t have enough beds right now, so we’re having to talk to the government there to see if we can get some hotel space, create some tent-type facilities there,” Modly said in an interview with CNN Tuesday.

Likewise, Modly stressed how detailed the process is to ensure that the carrier is sanitized correctly.

“The key is to make sure that we can get a set of crew members that can man all those critical functions on the ship, make sure they’re clean, get them back on, clean the ship, and get the other crew members off,” Modly said. “And that’s the process we’re going through. It’s very methodical. We’re absolutely accelerating it as we go.”

U.S. Transportation Command commander Army Gen. Stephen Lyons told reporters Tuesday he has not yet received a requirement to send test kits or medical supplies and personnel to the Roosevelt. When asked who would send a request for aid to the Roosevelt, Lyons said that the Navy has significant capacity to fulfill the mission.

“But they have a lot of capacity,” Lyons said. "I can’t speak as to what that looks like on the ground so I won’t speculate as to what the requirements might be, but we’re certainly prepared to support them.”

Fox News reported on Friday that the carrier Ronald Reagan also had two cases of COVID-19. The carrier is the fleet’s only forward-deployed carrier in the Pacific, and leaves the door open for a situation where both U.S. aircraft carriers in the Asia Pacific region are sidelined.

In response to the first cases on the carrier, Modly announced Thursday that the deployed Roosevelt would head to Guam.

“We found several more cases,” Modly told reporters Thursday. "We are in the process of testing 100 percent of the crew of that ship.”

“Nobody from the ship will be allowed to leave the ship other than on the pier,” Modly said.

At the time, Modly said all of the sailors were experiencing mild symptoms and none had been hospitalized. The senior officer aboard the Roosevelt echoed similar sentiments to the San Francisco Chronicle.

After the initial cases on the Roosevelt were detected, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday said the service was bracing for additional cases.

“We’re taking this day by day,” Gilday said.

“Our top two priorities are taking care of our people and maintaining mission readiness,” Gilday said. “Both of those go hand in glove.”

As of Tuesday, the Pentagon has reported 673 COVID-19 cases among service members. New Jersey Army National Guard soldier Capt. Douglas Linn Hickok became the first service member to die of the virus on Saturday, according to the Pentagon.

Military Times Pentagon bureau chief Meghann Myers contributed to this story.

Defense News: Pacific Fleet Commander outlines plans for containing outbreak on carrier Roosevelt

By: David B. Larter   10 hours ago

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Hours after a leaked letter from the Commanding Officer of the embattled carrier Theodore Roosevelt pleading for more support from the Navy leaked to the public, the head of U.S. Pacific Fleet told reporters he is working as fast as he can to get a plan in place to rotate sailors off the ship.

In the letter, Capt. Brett Crozier said he needed to get the bulk of the crew off the ship and into quarantine on Guam, where the carrier pulled this weekend, arguing that it would be impossible to contain the spread otherwise.

“Sailors do not need to die,” Crozier wrote in the letter. “If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors.”

But in remarks Tuesday evening Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. John Aquilino told reporters on a conference call that he has to balance the security and safety of the carrier with measures to protect the crew.

“Some people want to compare a cruise liner to a ship, let me tell you there are no comparisons,” Aquilino said, making reference to the Diamond Princess cruise liner outbreak, an incident cited by Crozier in his letter. “There are requirements that I have to protect that ship. I need to be able to run the reactors, fight fires, do damage control, feed the crew that’s aboard: All those things are a requirement. And the team that’s aboard is working through how to do that while at the same time executing our approach to delivering fully healthy and COVID-free sailors.”

As for Crozier’s request to pull the bulk of the crew off the ship, Aquilino said the Navy is working the request, and is in contact with Guam’s local government to secure hotel rooms for sailors.

“We understand the request,” Aquilino said. "We’ve been working it in advance, we continue to work it, and I’m optimistic that the additional quarantine and isolation capacity being discussed will be delivered shortly.

“But there has never been an intent to take all the sailors off of that ship. If that ship needed to respond to a crisis today, it would respond.”

Of Crozier’s letter, Aquilino said he understood the CO’s concern “is associated with the pace that we get sailors off, not that we’re not going to get sailors off.”

The plan is to rotate sailors into quarantine facilities for 14 days with the aim of getting them back on the ship after they’ve tested virus free, he said.

“That is the best way, the most accurate way, to validate that a sailor does not have the disease," Aquilino said. "The flow plan allows us to take some number of sailors off – so I can get to some number that I would be comfortable with to do all the missions the ship needs – work the remaining sailors through this quarantine/isolation/test model, then clean the ship and put only healthy sailors back on.”

Of the sailors who have tested positive, they continue to exhibit only mild symptoms, Aquilino said.

“I have no sailors hospitalized, I have no sailors on ventilators, I have no sailors in critical condition, no sailors in an [intensive care unit] status on Theodore Roosevelt,” he said.

NYT: Coronavirus Spreads in Veterans’ Home, Leaving ‘Shuddering Loss for Us All’

The mayor of Holyoke in Massachusetts confronted the superintendent of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home after hearing rumors that infections were spreading.

By Ellen Barry

March 31, 2020

NEWTON, Mass. — The mayor of Holyoke, Mass., got an unsigned letter over the weekend that deeply disturbed him.

“Are you aware of the horrific circumstances at the Soldiers’ Home?” the letter read, and went on to describe serious breaches, like a resident suspected of having the coronavirus, awaiting the results of a test, being sent back to a dementia ward with 20 other veterans.

“Where is the state in addressing what is truly happening in this building?” the letter concluded.

The mayor, Alex Morse, reached out to Bennett Walsh, the superintendent of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, a 247-bed, state-managed nursing home for veterans, to figure out what was going on.

But by then, Mr. Morse said, the damage was far more than he had imagined: In a matter of five days, eight veterans had died, apparently without being reported to either state or local officials. Others were sick with the coronavirus; staff members were too.

Mr. Walsh’s explanations left the mayor “incredibly disappointed,” and so did a conversation with Mr. Walsh’s superior, Francisco Urena, Massachusetts’ Secretary of Veterans’ Services. Frustrated and “with a sense of disappointment at the lack of urgency,” Mr. Morse contacted Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.

By Monday, state officials had announced a series of major moves.

Mr. Walsh was placed on administrative leave. A new command structure was put in place. The National Guard was brought in to speed up testing of staff and patients.

And that, Mr. Morse said, is increasingly the role of local government in the coronavirus crisis: To keep watch.

“Mayors should make themselves available, should be vigilant in getting as much information as possible,” he said. “Mayors have to know what’s going on within their community. I don’t have oversight over the facility, but it’s still my city.”

By Tuesday, 10 residents and seven staff members had tested positive for the coronavirus, with 25 more awaiting test results. Among 13 recent deaths, tests had come back positive for the virus in six cases, while five were still pending, another was inconclusive, and another came back negative.

Flags in Holyoke, a city of 40,000 around 90 miles west of Boston, were lowered to half-staff on Tuesday in honor of the veterans who died.

“These are people who gave their all, who risked their lives to protect all of us, and they deserved better, frankly,” Mr. Morse said.

State Representative Aaron Vega, whose district includes Holyoke, said he was still trying to understand how the virus could have moved so swiftly through the home’s population without word getting out to local officials.

“All of us in Western Mass support that home, and nobody knew anything,” he said. “The fact that nobody knew anything until it was in the news is trouble.”

Gov. Charlie Baker, in a news conference, said he had not learned of the deaths until Sunday night, when he spoke with Mr. Morse.

“In the short term, our primary focus is going to be on stabilizing and supporting the health and safety of the residents and their families,” he said. “And we will get to the bottom of what happened and when — and by who.”

Messages for Mr. Walsh were not immediately answered, and no one representing the Soldiers’ Home could be immediately reached for comment.

Brooke Karanovich, a spokeswoman from the state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services, said the state “took immediate action” as soon as it learned the extent of the coronavirus outbreak.

Most of those who have died were not identified.

But one of the dead was Theodore A. Monette, 74, a former senior official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, who helped coordinate the emergency response in Lower Manhattan after the World Trade Center attacks, and in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

A retired U.S. Army colonel who had served in the Vietnam War and Persian Gulf war, Mr. Monette had moved into the facility two months ago after the death of his wife, who had been his caretaker.

“They told me he was probably the highest-ranked guy there,” but so self-deprecating that he would rarely tell anybody his rank, said his daughter, Aimee Monette.

She recalled that one of her father’s physical therapists once Googled him and returned to her afterward in wide-eyed amazement.

Ms. Monette said she had initially learned from a community message board on Facebook that some veterans at the Soldiers’ Home had contracted the virus.

An anxious nurse called her last week, she said, to report that her father’s oxygen levels had dropped. Ms. Monette said they should transfer him to a hospital.

“They’re all dealing with something completely new, and everyone’s scared,” she said. “I don’t want to place blame, but the protocol should have happened faster.” Mr. Monette died on Monday, and no memorial is yet scheduled, she said.

“He deserves the full-on Army taps and the flag and everything,” she said. “But we have to wait.”

Military Times: ‘I survived Guam, I can get through this bulls–t’ — WWII vet, 95, makes full recovery from COVID-19

J.D. Simkins

11 hours ago

Good news has become scarce of late as the novel coronavirus wreaks havoc on the health and lifestyle of Americans nationwide.

At least, that was until the virus came into contact with Bill Kelly, a 95-year-old World War II veteran who declared a full recovery from COVID-19 Monday after being diagnosed two weeks earlier.

One of the first Navy Seabees to ship out to the South Pacific, Kelly stormed the beaches of Guam alongside Marines during the 1944 amphibious assault of the island and would spend three years in the South Pacific before returning home.

“My grandpa is tough, and he has a faith of steel,” Kelly’s granddaughter, Rose Etherington, told Military Times.

But COVID-19 has proven to be indiscriminate in its lethality, and so on March 15, with Kelly beginning to feel ill and a thermometer confirming a low-grade fever, the family took him to the hospital.

Preexisting medical conditions that include stage 3 kidney disease, congenital heart disease, and high blood pressure prompted hospital staff to keep Kelly overnight as a precaution.

When his condition improved the following day, the hospital released Kelly to return to his home in McMinnville, Oregon, which he shares with Etherington, her husband, her two children, and her mother.

To be safe, Kelly was tested at the insistence of Etherington’s husband, Isaac, who had been in close proximity to infected patients days earlier while working as a medical evacuation pilot.

Kelly tested positive for coronavirus on March 17, sending the entire family into a two-week quarantine in their home.

Isaac was subsequently tested, and the results came back negative. The much-needed duties of his profession, however, would have to be put on hold under quarantine with his family.

Each family member remained symptom-free while Kelly kept to himself in his bedroom, an initial span of “seven days where we treated the poor guy like a leper,” Isaac Etherington told the Oregonian.

Still, the WWII veteran and former fire chief remained optimistic and “tough as nails,” Rose Etherington wrote in a Facebook post.

“I survived the foxholes of Guam, I can get through this coronavirus bulls–t,” Kelly said, according to Etherington’s post.

As the first week of quarantine came to a close, Kelly’s symptoms gradually subsided.

“He is as chipper and sassy as ever,” Etherington wrote.

“Grandpa Bill” coped with his down time, meanwhile, by repeatedly serenading his housemates with a blasted recording of the “Polka chicken dance” which would reverberate throughout the house.

“Lord give us strength,” Etherington joked.

The family’s quarantine — and the chicken dance marathon — came to a merciful end on March 30. Etherington told Military Times that her grandfather was “doing amazing,” and that Isaac has since returned to work.

Throughout the ordeal Etherington said her grandfather placed a steady emphasis on family and togetherness.

“His dream is to see Americans supporting one another through this time,” she said. “He likes to see that old American fight again!”

And the 95-year-old plans on being around to enjoy it, she said.

“He believes God have him a job to do, and that he’s not going home until he finishes that job.”

Observation Post articles reflect author observations or attempts at humor. Any resemblance to news may be purely coincidental.

Stripes: Facing surge of patients, New Orleans VA transfers veterans to Mississippi

By NIKKI WENTLING | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 31, 2020

Stars and Stripes is making stories on the coronavirus pandemic available free of charge. See other free reports here. Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter here. Please support our journalism with a subscription.

WASHINGTON — Veterans are being transferred from the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in New Orleans to facilities in Mississippi as coronavirus cases in southeast Louisiana continue to grow.

The New Orleans VA Medical Center had tested 258 positive cases of the virus Tuesday, more than triple the number reported by the New York Harbor Healthcare System, which had the next-largest number of cases. New York Harbor serves Manhattan and Brooklyn and reported 72 cases Tuesday.

Of the 258 patients who tested positive in New Orleans, 32 were admitted to the hospital. Nine veterans died at the hospital in a two-day span last week, the VA reported. They were veterans in their 60s, 70s and 80s.

Because of the concentration of cases in New Orleans, the facility decided to preemptively transfer some patients to the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System in Biloxi, Miss., and the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center in Jackson, Miss., said Phil Walls, a spokesman for the New Orleans hospital.

The Biloxi hospital, about 90 miles from New Orleans, had reported no coronavirus cases as of Tuesday. Three veterans had tested positive in Jackson, which is about 200 miles away.

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The patients being transferred do not have coronavirus and are not under intensive care.

“These moves will ensure the veterans medical center in New Orleans maintains enough capacity to accommodate existing and future COVID-19 patients,” Walls said.

Louisiana has experienced a sharp increase in coronavirus cases. The state reported more than 5,000 positive cases Tuesday and 239 deaths. Gov. John Bel Edwards extended a stay-at-home order for the state through April 30.

Before the first case was diagnosed at the New Orleans VA Medical Center, hospital leadership established a command center to coordinate the response across southeast Louisiana, Walls said. The facility also established a negative airflow ward for patients with coronavirus in order to prevent contamination from escaping.

As with VA facilities nationwide, the New Orleans hospital prohibited visitors, canceled elective surgeries and is screening patients and employees who enter the facility.

Walls said he couldn’t speculate as to why the hospital had reported more positive cases than other VA locations.

The VA reported 1,347 positive cases across the country Tuesday. Of those, 313 patients had been admitted to VA hospitals.

Forty-one veterans had died — an increase of 14 from Monday. The newly reported deaths were in New Orleans, the Bronx; Brooklyn; Indianapolis; San Francisco; Wichita, Kan.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Minneapolis; and Madison, Wis. The veterans ranged in age from their 50s to their 80s.

The VA operates 172 medical centers and treats more than 9 million veterans, many of whom are thought to be at higher risk for the virus because of their age and underlying health conditions.

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said this week he sent mobile units to New Orleans, as well as New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The units provide counseling to veterans and help them coordinate their health care.

Twitter: @nikkiwentling Army Asks 10,000 Recently Separated Soldiers to Come Back for Virus Fight

31 Mar 2020 | By Hope Hodge Seck

After thousands of Army retirees responded to a voluntary recall request for those in health care fields to help the service fight the spread of the novel coronavirus, officials quietly issued another call-out — this one to recently separated troops in the Individual Ready Reserve.

On March 29, the Army’s Human Resources Command sent messages to nearly 10,000 soldiers in the IRR asking for volunteers to put the uniform back on, Lt. Col. Emanuel OrtizCruz, an Army spokesman, confirmed to The messages went out to those who had served in military occupational specialties including family nurse practitioner; critical care nursing; emergency nursing; nurse anesthetists; generalist nurse; and respiratory specialist, he said.

The newest voluntary recall request was issued just days after President Donald Trump issued an executive order authorizing the military services to recall members of the Selected Reserve and the IRR to active duty in light of the strain the global pandemic is placing on the force.

Related: Trump’s IRR Recall Order: What You Need to Know

While each service has slightly different IRR parameters and requirements, troops typically join the IRR for a period of four or five years following the conclusion of their active-duty service. A service member may have a contract that stipulates four years on active duty, but a total mandatory service obligation of eight years; the balance of that service is completed in the IRR. Troops in the IRR receive no pay and don’t need to drill, but may participate in periodic muster events — and they must remain ready for the possibility of involuntary recall by presidential order.

The Army, however, is beginning by soliciting as many volunteers as it can to meet medical provider gaps created as a result of deploying mobile field hospitals to urban regions in the U.S. hardest hit by the virus.

"The U.S. Army is reaching out to gauge the interest of IRR Soldiers who would be willing to assist with COVID-19 pandemic response efforts should their skills and expertise be required," OrtizCruz said.

It’s not clear how many soldiers the Army needs to fill its staffing gaps and whether it will be able to meet the need with a voluntary recall alone. To date, the service has ordered the deployment of three mobile field hospitals