ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Almost 200 midshipmen were staying at two Annapolis hotels Tuesday as the U.S. Naval Academy deals with a coronavirus outbreak. They were being housed at the Graduate Hotel and the Hilton Garden Inn to make more room for quarantine and isolation space in Bancroft Hall on campus.
A second wave of 98 midshipmen was moving to the Graduate after the first moved into the Hilton on Monday. The first nearly 100 midshipmen are recovering from the coronavirus.
The Graduate was chosen because it's close to the Hilton and has robust COVID-19 protocols, the academy said.
“This is a dynamic situation and decisions are made on a daily basis in a way that prioritizes the healthcare needs of the midshipmen and well-being of our entire Naval Academy community,” Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean Buck said in a statement Tuesday.
The midshipmen who are staying at the hotels will take classes online and cannot have guests or food delivered.
The academy returned classes to remote learning over the increase in virus cases. That change took effect Sunday and will be in place for at least 10 days, The Capital Gazette reported.
The Naval Academy has already issued restrictions that essentially confine midshipmen to their dormitory rooms except for essential activities.
Cmdr. Alana Garas said the academy could not say how many coronavirus cases are associated with the school because of operational security. But she said that cases doubled between Friday and Sunday. The increase began around Feb. 18 and continued to accelerate.
Valentine’s Day weekend is likely one of the reasons behind 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 an email to The Capital Gazette. “That said, actions taken during liberty that weekend is most likely the primary issue leading to that rise.”
The academy is developing plans to begin vaccinating midshipmen this month so students can deploy to ships and with Navy teams as part of their training this summer.
That's according to Buck, who spoke to a congressional panel Tuesday. If the vaccines are available, they would be the first military academy students to begin receiving COVID-19 shots.
The Associated Press contributed.