WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy said Tuesday that nearly all crewmembers assigned to the coronavirus-stricken USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier have been tested for the disease.
"As of today, 94% of USS Theodore Roosevelt crewmembers were tested for Covid-19, with 710 total positive and 3,872 negative results," the service wrote in a release. Of the total cases, nine are currently being treated at the U.S. Naval Hospital Guam, 42 sailors have recovered and one sailor died. A significant number of the Roosevelt crew tested positive but displayed no symptoms.
The growing outbreak threatening the crew aboard the Roosevelt was foreshadowed in a leaked letter penned last month by the ship's captain.
Capt. Brett Crozier urged senior military leaders in a four-page letter to take dramatic steps to safeguard the sailors aboard the Roosevelt.
"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," Crozier wrote in the letter dated March 30. "The spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating."
Shortly after the letter became public, Crozier was relieved of his command by then-acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly. Crozier is believed to have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Modly then took what became a controversial trip to Guam, costing taxpayers at least $243,000, to speak to the crew of the Roosevelt.
In the address, delivered via the ship's loudspeaker, Modly doubled down on his decision to relieve Crozier and called the former vessel's captain "naive" and "stupid." Hours later Modly issued an apology to the Navy.
"I also want to apologize directly to Captain Crozier, his family, and the entire crew of the Theodore Roosevelt for any pain my remarks may have caused," he said in a statement April 6.
Backlash mounted for Modly's firing and followed President Donald Trump's own suggestion he might get involved in the crisis.
A day later, Modly handed in his resignation to Defense Secretary Mark Esper. The Defense secretary then announced that he had tapped James McPherson, undersecretary of the Army, to be the new acting Navy secretary.
U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Gilday, chief of naval operations, will decide whether Crozier will be reinstated after an investigation.