More than 200 sailors aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt test positive for coronavirus

More than 200 sailors from the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the aircraft carrier whose captain was fired after warning of a coronavirus outbreak, have tested positive for COVID-19, the Navy said Tuesday.

The Navy said 79 percent of the crew had been tested as of Tuesday afternoon, with 230 sailors testing positive. More than 2,000 sailors had test results that came back negative.

No hospitalizations have been required, the Navy said, and 2,000 sailors were temporarily moved to shore in response to the outbreak.

“As testing continues, the ship will keep enough Sailors on board to sustain essential services and sanitize the ship in port,” the Navy said.

The ship became the focus of national attention last week after its commanding officer, Capt. Brett Crozier, issued a memo warning that the crew would face dire consequences if the Navy failed to address the coronavirus outbreak on the ship. In a since-leaked message, Crozier asserted that sailors could die if the vast majority of the 4,800 crew members weren’t evacuated.

The aircraft carrier is now docked at a Naval base in Guam to test and isolate crew members. 

“We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die,” Crozier wrote. “If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our sailors.”

Crozier’s letter, which was sent to more than 20 people and leaked to the news media a short while later, led to his ouster. Then-Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly defended the decision while speaking directly to the USS Theodore Roosevelt crew on Monday. 

Modly suggested that Crozier’s memo about the situation on the ship was a “betrayal.” He also said Crozier was “too naive or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this” if he thought his widely sent memo would not be leaked to the press.

Modly resigned on Tuesday, just a day after his remarks to the crew were leaked to the media. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he accepted Modly’s resignation and that James McPherson, undersecretary of the Army, would take over as acting Navy secretary.

The Navy has now reported more than 660 coronavirus cases in its ranks.

Tags Aircraft carrier Coronavirus COVID-19 Defense Department Mark Esper Navy Navy Pandemic Pentagon

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