NBC News has reported that an American sailor with COVID-19 was found unresponsive in his room on Thursday and is now being treated in an intensive care unit in a Guam hospital.
The U.S. Navy said that the unnamed sailor had been in isolation after being diagnosed with coronavirus on March 30. The sailor was assigned to the USS Theodore Roosevelt, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier currently in Guam which has been hit with a highly-publicized outbreak of the coronavirus.
As of Thursday, the Navy has confirmed that 416 crew members have tested positive for coronavirus, CBS News reported, and roughly 2,000 sailors have now been moved to a base on shore.
Captain ousted over leaked warning
At the end of March, then-commander Capt. Brett Crozier emailed a memo warning of dire consequences if his crew could not disembark at Guam so that infected members could be quarantined and the ship sterilized. The memo was later leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle and reported on March 31.
“Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure,” Crozier admitted, but called it “a necessary risk.”
“Keeping over 4,000 young men and women on board the TR is an unnecessary risk and breaks faith with those Sailors entrusted to our care,” he continued. “This will require a political solution but it is the right thing to do. We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors.”
Following the memo’s publication, Crozier was relieved of his command of the Roosevelt and was harshly condemned by then-acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly for being either “stupid” or “naive.”
Other ships at risk, Crozier’s fate uncertain
Air Force Gen. John Hyten serves as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and during a press briefing at the Pentagon on Thursday, he spoke about the hospitalized sailor’s condition.
“We’re hoping that that sailor recovers,” Hyten told the assembled reporters. “We’re praying for him and his family and his shipmates.”
“It’s not a good idea to think that the Teddy Roosevelt is a one-of-a-kind issue. We have too many ships at sea,” he went on to say, adding, “To think that it will never happen again is not a good way to plan.”
Adm. Mike Gilday, who was also present at the briefing, didn’t rule out the possibility of reinstating Crozier, saying, “I am taking no options off the table.”