Rapid increase in cornavirus cases on board an American aircraft carrier

Nellie Chapman
March 27, 2020

All 5,000 personnel aboard the U.S. aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt will be tested for the coronavirus in Guam after the number of confirmed cases on the ship rose to about two dozen, U.S. Navy officials said on Thursday.

The three servicemembers are the first coronavirus cases discovered on board a deployed Navy ship, Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly told reporters at a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday.

The sailors on the ship had visited the city of Da Nang in Vietnam more than two weeks ago during a port visit.

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

The ship is pulling into Guam and will remain pierside as the Navy tests the entire crew for the highly infectious coronavirus. Fifteen days later, while at sea, three sailors tested positive for COVID-19 and were flown off the ship.

Gilday said he expected additional positive tests to emerge after the large scale testing of the ship's crew begins and that any sailors who test positive will be transported to U.S. Naval Hospital Guam for further examination.

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The infections aboard the carrier are one of the most vivid examples of the coronavirus' impact on the military and could test the Navy's ability to forge ahead with operations.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt, nicknamed the "Big Stick", is now pulling into Guam.

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

The Roosevelt has about 800 test kits on board and "we're flying more on there today", he said. "No one in the crew will be allowed to leave anywhere in Guam, except on the dock", he said.

Gilday added, "We are confident that our aggressive response will keep USS Theodore Roosevelt able to respond to any crisis in the region". There are approximately 5,000 personnel on board the carrier.

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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