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Second Covid-19 'outbreak' hits USS Theodore Roosevelt with at least 5 sailors testing positive

Roosevelt is a major nuclear-powered warship which has been paralyzed by the coronavirus with over a thousand of its crew members testing positive recently
USS Theodore Roosevelt (Getty Images)
USS Theodore Roosevelt (Getty Images)

US Aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is in the headlines again and the reason is not an encouraging one. A second wave of Covid-19 pandemic outbreak has reportedly hit its deck and at least five sailors have tested positive. According to a report in The New York Times, one infected sailor tested negative before returning to the warship, which has remained docked in Guam for some months. Roosevelt's case raised an alert in the US Navy and a number of other ships were also found to be hit with the virus aboard. The authorities concerned thereafter decided to keep those vessels that have not been touched so far at sea indefinitely.

The NYT report said the infected sailor started experiencing symptoms of the virus and was deboarded immediately. Four other crew members, who came into close proximity with him, were also removed from the vessel and they ended up testing positive. Besides them, 18 other crew members were also deboarded. 

According to sources in the Navy, the new cases could be the result of a testing issue and not a fresh outbreak. More than 1,100 members of the nearly 5,000-strong crew on the ship tested positive a few months ago. One life has been lost. While over 4,000 crew members left the ship to go to the land in April, more than 2,000 have returned while at least 1,000 are still on the land, testing positive. Nearly 700 crew members who had been looking after Roosevelt's operations have now taken shelter in hotels and other accommodations on land as part of their quarantine. The sailors who are returning to the ship are taking precautions like wearing gloves and masks and traveling by sterilized buses. Even the ship is being sanitized four times a day. 

Former USS Theodore Roosevelt captain Brett Crozier (Getty Images)

Captain Brett Crozier removed for raising alert

Roosevelt made big news in recent times when its former captain Brett Crozier wrote to several quarters bringing to notice the deteriorating situation on board because of the pandemic outbreak. He was made to pay the price as a result and was removed from his position in early April — a decision that did not go down well with the sailors' fraternity. The then acting navy secretary, Thomas Modly, also stepped down after calling Crozier "too naive or too stupid" abroad the carrier. While Crozier's reinstatement is being discussed, he has taken up a temporary staff job with Naval Air Forces in San Diego, spokesperson Commander Ron Flanders said on Tuesday, May 12, the NYT report added. He said Crozier will be a special assistant to the Naval Air Forces Chief of Staff Captain Max McCoy. 

Last month, the Navy said its officials will carry out a wide investigation of circumstances surrounding the outbreak aboard Roosevelt. The decision on the probe was announced by James E McPherson, the current acting navy secretary, who said an initial inquiry was not adequate. "I have unanswered questions that the preliminary inquiry has identified and that can only be answered by a deeper review," he said. The announcement of the probe came days after Secretary of Defense Mark Esper refused to immediately back the navy's original investigation into the matter, which included a recommendation to reinstate Crozier, who also tested positive.