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Reports: 655 sailors on Roosevelt aircraft carrier now have coronavirus

.S. Navy Aviation Electrician™s Mate 3rd Class Kyle Hernandez, from Denton, Texas, assigned to the Tomcatters of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31, disinfects a berthing aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) with a multi-surface sanitizer April 12, 2020. Upon arriving in Guam March 27, Theodore Roosevelt established an Emergency Command Center, initiated a roving and deep cleaning team, and continually educated the crew on social distancing and proper protective procedures and behaviors, to assist the crew in mitigating and controlling the spread of COVID. Theodore Roosevelt is in Guam for a scheduled port visit for resupply and crew rest during their scheduled deployment to the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kaylianna Genier.)
April 16, 2020

At least 655 sailors aboard the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt have now tested positive for coronavirus as of new reports on Thursday.

The rise in coronavirus cases aboard the aircraft carrier includes six sailors now hospitalized as a result of their illnesses, the Associated Press reported Thursday. One of those sailors is reported to be at an intensive care unit with shortness of breath.

The new numbers include an uptick in hospitalizations, from four on Tuesday and five on Thursday. One sailor has died following the coronavirus outbreak aboard the ship.

The ship became the subject of controversy after its commanding officer Capt. Brett Crozier announced his decision to divert course and seek testing in Guam for the all of the roughly 5,000 people on board. The leak of a memo by Crozier, in which he requested a 14-day quarantine for all of the ship’s crew led then-acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly to relieve Crozier of his command of the ship.

Modly’s decision led to backlash from the ship’s crew and he resigned from his position days later.

The Navy has since indicated willingness to reinstate Crozier to his former command.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt has since carried on efforts to test sailors and quarantine its crew. Along with the 655 positive cases, another 3,919 personnel aboard the ship have tested negative. A remaining six percent of the crew had yet to be tested at the time of the new Thursday numbers.

The number of coronavirus cases for the ship, at 655, is up from Tuesday when U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said 585 crew members had tested positive reported.

In his Tuesday remarks Esper said at the time that only around 213 sailors, had any symptoms. Esper noted at the time that the high number of asymptomatic cases demonstrated the disease’s ability to spread without notice.

“Think about that. There are people who have tested positive — over 300 — who are just moving around,” he said. “The same could apply for all of us.”

Coronavirus cases have expanded to three other U.S. Navy aircraft carriers, including the USS Ronald Reagan, USS Nimitz and USS Carl Vinson. Further coronavirus cases have also appeared at dozens of U.S. military bases around the country.

In his recent comments, Esper stressed the need to increase testing throughout the military.

“Right now, the key is expanding the test kits, making sure that we … have what we need to address people who are symptomatic first, but then again tiering our forces because we have to maintain that mission readiness,” Esper said.

At the time Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Mark Milley said, “Our aspiration is to expand testing, especially for groups that are going to probably be in tighter quarters, such as sub crews, bomber crews, basic trainees, and things like that,

Milley said the U.S. Defense Department is currently able to process around 9,000 test per day in its labs but that they hope to expand that capacity to around 65,000 per day within the next 45 days.