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US Navy identifies aircraft carrier sailor who died of coronavirus

Official photo released of Aviation Ordnanceman Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr., 41, of Fort Smith, Ark. assigned to USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), who died from COVID-19 April 13 at U.S. Naval Hospital Guam. (U.S. Navy Photo/Released)
April 17, 2020

The U.S. Navy has now identified the sailor who contracted coronavirus aboard aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and passed away on Monday.

Aviation Ordnanceman Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr., 41, died April 13 at U.S. Naval Hospital Guam after four days in the intensive care unit, the Navy said in a statement on Thursday.

Thacker was admitted to the ICU on April 9, after being found unresponsive that morning. CPR was administered by both fellow sailors and a medical team before the transfer to ICU.

He had tested positive for the virus on March 30, and was removed from the ship after the positive diagnosis. He was placed in quarantine on Naval Base Guam with four other sailors from the ship where he received twice-daily medical checks.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt had docked at a port in Guam on March 27 to resupply and begin quarantining sailors on land after a coronavirus outbreak quickly spread on the ship.

Thacker’s spouse, who is also an active duty service member, was flown to Guam on April 11 and remained by his side until his passing.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time,” said Capt. Carlos Sardiello, Theodore Roosevelt’s commanding officer. “Our number one priority continues to be the health and well-being of all members of the Theodore Roosevelt Strike Group and we remain steadfast in our resolve against the spread of this virus.”

At least 655 sailors aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt have now tested positive for coronavirus as of new reports on Thursday. Six of those sailors are hospitalized, and one is in the ICU.

During an interview with the Today Show on Thursday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that approximately 350 of Roosevelt’s coronavirus cases are asymptomatic, which “has revealed a new dynamic of this virus.”

Roosevelt’s very first coronavirus cases were reported March 24. Three sailors were confirmed positive with the virus and were quickly evacuated from the ship, which was moving through the Philippine Sea at the time.

Crew members who came into contact with the three affected sailors were also quarantined.

The aircraft carrier had visited a port in Vietnam 15 days earlier in a rare visit, but also had multiple aircraft landing on its deck in recent days.

On Wednesday, U.S. officials told the Wall Street Journal they are “increasingly certain” that the virus was contracted from incoming flight crews, and not the port visit to Vietnam.