Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam confirms COVID-19 cases, but details silenced by Pentagon

US Army bases in Hawaii restricting non-essential visitors in wake of coronavirus pandemic

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Leaders with Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam say there are coronavirus cases at the installation, but the Pentagon is precluding them from releasing them.

The reason: To “protect operational security.”

“Are there any Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam service members that are sick with COVID. The answer is ‘yes.’ Until recently, we were providing that information,” said Capt. Jeff Bernard, commander of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Officials also said the RIMPAC exercise with 25,000 military personnel and about two dozen nations is still on for July and August in Hawaii — at least for now.

“RIMPAC is on. RIMPAC is going to happen absolutely positively until you read publicly it is not. Once big Navy decides whether or not it’s going to happen, you will hear about it in the open press,” said Bernard.

Officials also confirmed a Coast Guard member assigned to the Coast Guard cutter Midgett tested positive for coronavirus Wednesday. A news release says the member was not aboard the cutter and has been self-isolating since March 24.

The Coast Guard is under Homeland Security so it’s not under same secrecy rules as the Pentagon.

Bruce Anderson, the director of state Department of Health, told Hawaii News Now that the military’s reported cases are included in the state numbers.

Meanwhile, Council member Kym Pine is urging the military to continue to report as much as possible.

“We have residents who work there and very large numbers so we need to know as a city and state what we can do to respond to the situation because it helps us to understand where the clusters are happening, where the unsafe situations are happening,” said Pine.

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