A sailor aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt has died from COVID-19 just over a week after the former captain of the ship issued an urgent memo to military leaders about the growing outbreak, CNN reported.
The former captain, Brett Crozier, was dismissed for his warning memo, which called for more help from military leaders and the evacuation of the ship. At that time, there were 100 known COVID-19 cases — now there are 600 on the ship.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt typically carries about 5,000 sailors on board. So far, about 4,000 of them have been evacuated, with 1,000 staying on to perform the essential duties necessary to the operation of an aircraft carrier with nuclear capability.
The sailor who died tested positive for the coronavirus on March 30. He was found unresponsive on the ship on April 10, and transferred to the intensive care unit.
"The entire Department is deeply saddened by the loss of our first active duty member to Covid-19. Our thoughts are with the family of the USS Theodore Roosevelt sailor who lost his battle with the virus today. We remain committed to protecting our personnel and their families while continuing to assist in defeating this outbreak," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said, CNN reported.
News of Crozier's letter to military leaders broke in the San Francisco Chronicle on March 31. Crozier warned that the crowded conditions of the ship, which is docked in Guam, set up prime conditions for rapid spread of the virus because social distancing was almost impossible.
"This will require a political solution but it is the right thing to do," Crozier wrote in the letter. "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."