23 sailors aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt test positive for COVID-19


At least 23 sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, forcing the warship to port in Guam to test all 5,000 on board.  

On Tuesday three sailors tested positive for COVID-19. By Wednesday that number jumped to eight and half of those infected were airlifted to a military medical facility in Guam, Navy officials said.

By Thursday the number of infected mounted to about two dozen, prompting Navy officials to dock the ship to test all sailors. 

‘We found several more cases on board the ship. We are in the process now of testing 100 percent of the crew of that ship to ensure that we’re able to contain whatever spread might have occurred there,’ Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said from the Pengaton Thursday.

However, Admiral Michael Gilday, chief of naval operations, is adamant that the carrier will continue with its operations, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

The ship is currently pulling into Guam where all sailors on board will be tested. 

However, once at port the crew will not be permitted to leave the carrier.  

At the moment there are 800 COVID-19 test kits on board with more being flown in.  

Sailors who have tested positive have been quarantined and those in contact with the infected are also under quarantine.

Modly told reporters that the sailors who have been airlifted off the ship so far due to COVID-19 exhibited ‘very mild’ symptoms including ‘aches and pains’ and ‘sore throats’.  

The disease could be catastrophic on the Nimitz-class as sailors live in close quarters. 

The infections on USS Roosevelt mark the first time servicemen have tested positive for the virus while aboard a deployed military ship.

Still, the Navy is determined to keep the warship running. 

‘This is an example of our ability to keep our ships deployed at sea even with active COVID-19 cases,’ Modly said Wednesday.

‘Our ships are sailing, our planes are flying, and training is still happening to safeguard our US national interests and those of all of our allies and partners around the world,’ he added.  

The sailors on the ship had visited the city of Da Nang in Vietnam more than two weeks ago during a port visit. Navy officials believe the sailors could have contracted the virus there.

Modly said the sailors could have contracted the virus from other sources such as flight crew members from a plane that visited the carrier.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt was deployed from San Diego in January to the western Pacific and made a port call in Da Nang, Vietnam in March 5.  

At that time, the number of cases in the country was low and all were in the northern part of the country away from the port.

‘At that time, there were only 16 positive cases in Vietnam, and those are well to the north all isolated in Hanoi,’ Gilday said.

Adm. Aquilino was one of the crew members who met the Roosevelt in Vietnam earlier this month. He says neither he or his staffers have exhibited any symptoms related to the virus.

‘I feel 100 percent fine,’ Aquilino said Wednesday, noting he was not considering getting tested. ‘My health is no different than anyone else’s.’ 

The USS Roosevelt isn’t the only part of the military getting hit by the coronavirus crisis.  

Overall 280 U.S. service members have tested positive for the virus. 

The Navy reported Thursday that 104 active-duty service members have been confirmed to have the coronavirus – accounting for about a third of all service members.

‘Our curve is not flattening,’ Air Force Brig. Gen. Paul Friedrichs, the Joint Staff surgeon, said in a press conference Wednesday.

Testing for COVID-19 is being conducted on assault ship USS America, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, and the 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge, as the Navy works to increase its testing ability.

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