COVID-19 pandemic in the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base

COVID-19 pandemic in the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
LocationGuantanamo Bay Naval Base
Arrival date24 March 2020
(1 year, 11 months, 1 week and 3 days)
Confirmed cases2

The COVID-19 pandemic was confirmed to have reached the United States' Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in March 2020.[1] Since April 2020, the United States Department of Defense has directed bases to not publicize case statistics.


March 24

On 24 March, the first case in Guantanamo Bay Naval Base was confirmed.[2] It was announced that day that a navy sailor tested positive for the virus.[1]

March 25

On March 25, the school at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base moved to distance learning in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.[3]

April 15

After initial precautions were introduced on March 24, Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay issued an updated series of procedures to prevent illness from spreading to any residents, stationed personnel, or detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Base. These rules included a mandatory quarantine of two weeks following arrival on the installation.[4]

May 2

Due to prohibitions on direct contact and travel due to the pandemic, lawyers and others plan to video-chat with the five defendants on trial in the United States v. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed case, one of the trials related to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Some of the defendants— Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Walid bin Attash, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Ammar al-Baluchi, and Mustafa Ahmad al Hawsawi—retain lawyers considered “at-risk” by the Department of Defense or are consider at-risk themselves, preventing direct communication. Regular quarterly visits are set to resume by August.[5]

May 28

On May 28 a group of 15 U.S. senators, including prominent senators Bernie Sanders (I) and Elizabeth Warren (D), wrote a letter expressing their concern that there would be a significant outbreak of COVID-19 on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.[6]


On health care

The Guantanamo Bay Naval Base has a small hospital on its grounds. The hospital has been administering temperature checks, and sending some samples to the U.S. government to test. The prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base are unable to enter the U.S. for healthcare, so the Pentagon sends out medical teams for serious treatments. The military has said that they have not tested any of the prisoners, because none of them met the CDC guidelines for testing. They have also refused to state how many have been tested, as to not "jeopardize operations." It is unclear whether or not there are any working ventilators at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.[6]

On at risk populations

The detainee population of the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base ranges in age from mid-30s to 72 years old. Older prisoners with underlying health conditions like heart conditions and diabetes have been moved away from younger prisoners.[6]

On education

The school on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base moved to distance learning on March 25, and was the last Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) school to do so. Classes for students continue online through Google Classroom.[3]

It is unknown whether the 8 seniors at the school will be able to gather for their June 5 graduation.[6]


  1. ^ a b Kheel, Rebecca (24 March 2020). "Navy sailor at Guantanamo tests positive for coronavirus". TheHill. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  2. ^ "Naval Station Guantanamo Bay Announces Positive COVID-19 Case". Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba Public Affairs. Archived from the original on 14 April 2020. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Learning Continues for DOD School System Students Despite COVID-19 Res". U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  4. ^ "Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay (JTF-GTMO) Covid-19 Preventative Measures" (PDF). U.S. southern Command Guidance. Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay. 15 April 2020. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  5. ^ Rosenberg, Carole (2 May 2020). "9/11 Prisoners May Get Video Chats to Bridge the Coronavirus Divide". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d Rosenberg, Carol (28 May 2020). "Senators Seek Answers on Coronavirus Protections at Guantánamo Bay". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 28 May 2020.

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