Sailors who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine must test themselves for the virus every week before reporting to work, regardless of whether any exemptions based on religion or otherwise have been asked for.
As of Nov. 28, commands of naval facilities and ships could begin testing if they had the supplies to do so. Vice Adm. William Merz, deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans, and strategy, stipulated this in an administrative order.
Navy orders state that sailors should self-test and that the Navy will pay for them, according to the order.
Following this order, unvaccinated service members who have recently recovered from the virus and remain asymptomatic are exempt from testing for 90 days following their recovery.
Reserve sailors who are unvaccinated will be tested no earlier than Dec. 28 if supplies are available, Merz said. Under this order, government civilians and contractors will be tested separately.
A sailor may have to move between commands during a day, and a single test is not automatically accepted. If the sailor attends a meeting at another command, they may need to retake the test.
Specifically, the order exempts active-duty and reserve service members who work remotely full time or work in facilities less frequently than once a week from testing every week.
However, service members must provide a negative test result taken within the past 72 hours to enter a naval facility.
It is also specified in the order how the test results will be documented and maintained.
According to the order, it was not specified how the testing would be conducted or verify the results. Further, there was no indication of what would happen if a sailor refused to take the test.
Uncertainty remained regarding the number of Navy commands that have begun testing.
Navy Region Europe Africa Central spokesman Lieutenant Commander Matthew Comer said tests would during a day begin in Italy, Spain and Greece when FDA-approved supplies for COVID-19 self-tests arrive.
The testing will be conducted weekly by a designated testing coordinator at each command to provide results without any further processing," Comer stated.
The Navy reports that as of Nov. 17, 97% of active-duty sailors have been fully immunized against COVID-19, and 99.7% have been partially immunized. Pentagon figures indicate that the Navy has approximately 348,000 active-duty sailors. Navy statistics indicate that approximately 87% of reservists have been fully vaccinated.
Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro has ordered that all sailors be fully vaccinated by November 28. All reserve members must be fully immunized by Dec. 28.