Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) are seeking information regarding the U.S. Coast Guard’s (USCG) preparedness in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The legislators recently forwarded correspondence to Admiral Karl Schultz, expressing concern the pandemic could threaten the health of the Coast Guard workforce as they continue performing safety and national security missions.
“Like essential workers across the country, the mission essential operations of USCG do not inherently lend themselves to social distancing or rescheduling,” the lawmakers wrote. “As warmer weather marks the start of recreational boating season across the country and enhanced counter-narcotics and drug interdiction efforts continue, the demand for a ready and healthy USCG workforce persists.”
The Coast Guard is charged with facilitating the safe and secure flow of goods into the nation’s ports and waterways, officials said, performing search and rescue missions, ensuring continued access to vital sea routes, and other national security missions like interdicting illicit drug trafficking.
In the letter, the lawmakers inquired about how COVID-19 has impacted USCG readiness for emergency response; how the USCG is preparing members for deployment aboard cutters and measures taken to ensure COVID-19 is not brought on board; and rapid COVID-19 tests availability aboard USCG cutters.
“Conditions for members deployed aboard cutters are particularly challenging, where medical care and testing is limited,” the lawmakers concluded. “As we learned from the unfortunate levels of infection on the U.S. Navy’s USS Theodore Roosevelt, cases on vessels at sea can spread widely. Resources must be available to protect the health and safety of members and prevent the spread of COVID-19 while conducting operations at sea.”