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US Navy bracing for more coronavirus outbreaks on ships

'We have too many ships at sea. We have too many deployed capabilities,' says Gen. John Hyten

Michael Hernandez   | 09.04.2020
US Navy bracing for more coronavirus outbreaks on ships


The Pentagon expects more coronavirus outbreaks on naval ships as it seeks to rein in an existing outbreak aboard an aircraft carrier where more than 400 sailors have tested positive, a top general said Thursday.

"It is not a good idea to think that the Teddy Roosevelt is a one of a kind issue," Vice Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. John Hyten told reporters at the Pentagon during a call-in news conference.

He was referring to the USS Theodore Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier with more than 4,000 sailors, which has been docked in Guam since late March as the Defense Department seeks to rein in a coronavirus outbreak onboard.

"We have too many ships at sea. We have too many deployed capabilities," the Air Force general added. "To think that it will never happen again is not a good way to plan. What we have to do is figure out how to plan for these kind of operations in these kind of COVID environments."

With about 1,000 tests remaining, 416 crew members are positive for COVID-19 while 3,170 were negative, Hyten said.

One sailor has been hospitalized and placed in intensive care, he added. Many crew members have been lodged ashore amid an effort to care for the sick and clean the ship.

Not all whose tests came back positive were displaying symptoms. In fact, most, 229, were asymptomatic. More than 1,100 tests results are pending.

During a surprise visit to the ship Monday, former Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly berated former Capt. Brett Crozier, whom he ousted days earlier, telling the crew their former leader is "too naive or too stupid" to remain in command if he thought a letter he sent to Navy leadership warning of the novel coronavirus outbreak onboard the aircraft carrier would not leak to the press.

Modly tendered his resignation Tuesday after the remarks elicited widespread outrage.

Crozier departed the USS Theodore Roosevelt following his ouster last week to raucous cheers from the crew who voluminously voiced support for their chief.

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