A pandemic is raging, but the Navy still wants your pee

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Like the Cookie Monster needs cookies and like Michael Bay needs explosions, the Navy still needs to take a look at your urine every once in a while — and a little novel coronavirus (COVID-19) isn’t going to get in the way of its fix.

“Commands will continue random urinalysis specimen collection from Sailors during the COVID-19 pandemic to the greatest extent possible,” wrote Vice Admiral John B. Nowell Jr., deputy chief of Naval operations for manpower, personnel, training and education in a policy update on Thursday.

However the Global Force for Good is making a few exceptions in its regular bouts of urinalysis to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

Commanders and COs can now pause collection or reduce collection percentages and the numbers of days collected if they deem it necessary to support operational flexibility or COVID-19 mitigation, the update said.

According to Military.com, random urinalysis usually takes place four times a month, with 15% of a unit selected for testing. The new guidance lets commanders limit testing to two or three times a month, and sample fewer sailors if necessary.

The Navy is also tweaking the urinalysis policy to reduce the risk of the tests spreading COVID-19. Drug testing shall be conducted with no more than 10 people, including the urinalysis program coordinator and observer, which shakes out to a maximum of eight watery offerings at a time.

Also, sailors must remain six feet from one another, put their pee sample bottles in a “secondary container with absorbent materials,” and bring their own pens to sign and initial samples before handing them off to the coordinator.

Everyone in the test is also expected to avoid touching their face, to wash their hands after any contact or exchange of personal items such as ID cards, and to wipe down all contacted surfaces such as tables and door handles.

The update says commands should not require urine samples from sailors who are sick, restricted in movement, quarantined or self-monitoring, and commands should not recall sailors who are teleworking or in a non-duty status.

Lanorfeia Parker, the Navy's drug detection and deterrence program manager, told Military.com that the service decided to keep up its urinalysis routine despite the coronavirus because it wants to deter sailors from doing drugs while social distancing.

"The reason why we're not canceling this altogether is because we still are a service that is required to be mission-ready," she said. "What we find is, during this time, individuals become isolated, they feel lonely, and that can itself push people to do things they wouldn't necessarily do."