Thirty-five members of a U.S. Air Force unit recently arrived at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam have contracted the COVID-19 virus, the Air Force said on Monday. Photo by A1C Christopher Quail/U.S. Air force
June 22 (UPI) -- A sudden increase in COVID-19 infections at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam is under investigation, officials said on Monday.
An unidentified Air Force unit arrived in Guam on May 25, and 35 of its members have been hospitalized and quarantined since.
The first virus case was discovered on June 11, will all members of the unit tested by June 19.
The group stayed at the Guam Reef Hotel, in Guam's entertainment and shopping district, before moving to the base, and officials are investigating if mandatory protection protocols were followed.
"All military members are subject to the established public health emergency protocols," Brig. Gen. Gentry Boswell, commander of the 36th Air Wing, stationed at the base, said on Monday. "If the ensuing investigation determines that members did not follow these directives in a disciplined manner, they will be held accountable for their actions under the Uniform Code of Military Justice."
"Preliminary evidence in a public health investigation revealed the possibility that some of these members may not have adhered to Andersen and local Public Health directives," Boswell added.
It is unclear if the infected members of the group acquired the virus before or after they arrived in Guam.
Two other airmen deployed to Guam, not associated with the unit under investigation, tested positive for the coronavirus, the Guam Homeland Security Office of Civil Defense said on Monday.
"To date, there have been a total of 224 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 5 deaths, 173 released from isolation, and 46 active cases," the Civil Defense office said. "Of those cases, 182 are classified as civilians, and 42 are military service members."
Naval Base Guam was the site of a two-month quarantine of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. Over 1,500 people aboard the ship tested positive for the virus. The ship left Guam on June 4, and the recent outbreak is not believed to be related to that aboard the ship, officials said.