One in 5 Sailors on Virus-Hit Carrier Test Positive in Final Tally

April 28, 2020 Updated: April 28, 2020

A fifth of the sailors on the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for the CCP virus in the final tally—accounting for half of all cases in the Navy.

Only one sailor from the 5,000-strong ship is now in hospital, down from the peak of nine earlier in the outbreak on the nuclear-powered carrier.

“There are currently 955 active cases and 14 recovered cases,” according to the latest official update on April 27, which said that all test results were now in.

“The number of recovered Theodore Roosevelt sailors previously reported has been reset. Cases now are not counted as recovered until the sailor has had two successive negative tests,” the Navy update read.

With testing completed, the Navy has stopped providing daily updates on the number of sailors ashore and on the ship. It has not indicated the process of reembarking the ship.

The 955 cases on the carrier make up almost half of the Navy’s current total of 2,105 cases, which includes both military and civilian personnel.

The first and only COVID-19 death of a member of the military on active duty was a 41-year-old chief petty officer on the Theodore Roosevelt, who died on April 13 in a hospital in Guam.

The carrier is still sidelined in Guam where it has remained in port for the last month as the crew was systematically evacuated and tested as the ship was cleaned.

Until last week, the carrier was the only one of some 90 deployed U.S. Navy ships to report an outbreak at sea. On April 24, however, the USS Kidd, a much smaller destroyer, headed back to port from deployment in the Caribbean after officials announced an outbreak.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd
The guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd in the Pacific Ocean in a photo made available by the U.S. Navy on May 18, 2011. (Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Carla Ocampo/U.S. Navy via AP)

“As of today, 45 percent of USS Kidd (DDG 100) crewmembers have been tested for COVID-19, with 47 total positive results,” said an April 27 Navy statement. “Two sailors have been medically evacuated to the United States. Fifteen sailors have been transferred to USS Makin Island (LHD 8) for monitoring due to persistent symptoms. None are in the ICU or on ventilators.”

According to the statement, all sailors on the ship are wearing PPE and N95 masks.

The Navy had learned lessons from other COVID-19 outbreaks, said chief Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Rath Hoffman during a briefing with reporters on April 24.

“Within 24 hours of the first person who was symptomatic on the ship, they had a medical team on that ship doing detailed analysis and contact tracing and testing of members of the crew,” he said.

Small numbers of sailors assigned to 26 ships that are all currently in port—not deployed— have tested positive for the virus.

Epoch Times Photo
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in the Indian Ocean on March 15, 2009. (Petty Officer 2nd Class Dusty Howell/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

The Pentagon is prioritizing making sure crews are virus-free when they head out on deployment, which means concentrating testing and quarantine in the time window just before deployment.

The carrier USS Nimitz set sail for training yesterday—but only after a 27 quarantine period and testing all of the crew.

“Dealing with the challenges of the COVID pandemic has been difficult,” said Capt. Max Clark, commanding officer. “I give the crew all the credit. From the beginning, they have done all that I and Navy leadership have asked them to do—face coverings, social distancing, continuous ship sanitization, testing, and periods of quarantine; all executed with precision and professionalism.”

The Nimitz will pick up the baton from the Harry S. Truman, which has remained at sea despite coming to the end of its deployment, to ensure two U.S. aircraft carriers were at sea, COVID-19-free.

Military leaders continue to emphasize that U.S. military readiness is high, despite the pandemic, warning adversaries not to test them.

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