Rapid increase in cornavirus cases on board an American aircraft carrier

Clay Curtis
March 27, 2020

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.

"We found several more cases on board the ship", Navy Secretary Thomas Modly told reporters at the Pentagon. It's last port visit was in Da Nang, Vietnam, but Pentagon officials said they hadn't determined if that was where the first crewmember was exposed to the coronavirus.

"We took great precautions when the crew came back from that shore visit, and did enhanced medical screenings of the crew", he said.

Officials also said that the Navy is working to identify others on the ship who could possibly be infected with COVID-19, with Adm. John Aquilino, commander of the Pacific Fleet, saying that they're working "towards the goal of minimizing any additional transmission".

The USS Theodore Roosevelt was in the middle of a deployment to the Philippine Sea area when eight sailors tested positive.

PHOTO: An F/A-18F Super Hornet launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) March 18, 2020. But Navy officials said that won't affect their combat power.

The first three sailors tested positive 15 days after the port of call.

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"We are testing 100% of the crew on this ship to make sure we can contain any spread that may occur", Modly told reporters at the Pentagon during a briefing on Thursday morning.

The Roosevelt has about 800 test kits on board and "we're flying more on there today", he said.

The ship is now pulling into Guam where all sailors on board will be tested. "No one on the crew will be allowed to leave anywhere to Guam except on the bridge side", he said.

Modly had earlier described the symptoms of infected sailors aboard the carrier as being "very mild" - namely body aches and sore throats.

The acting secretary insisted that the ship remains operationally capable and able to fulfill its mission if necessary.

On Wednesday Defense Secretary Mark Esper enacted a 60-day stop-movement order for US service members and their families stationed overseas, as well as civilian staff employed by the Department of Defense.

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