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US Navy captain seeks help as coronavirus outbreak spreads on 4,000-person ship: 'Sailors do not need to die'

At least 100 crew members have the virus

Aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

The captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt is asking for more help to deal with a spreading coronavirus outbreak on the ship, which is carrying 4,000 crew members, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

At least 100 crew members have tested positive for COVID-19, and the close quarters of the ship create an environment in which proper isolation methods are difficult or impossible.

"Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure. ... This is a necessary risk," Capt. Brett Crozier wrote to senior military officials. "Keeping over 4,000 young men and women on board the TR is an unnecessary risk and breaks faith with those Sailors entrusted to our care."

The ship has been docked in Guam since the infections were discovered last week. Crozier is concerned that without a coordinated effort, sailors could needlessly die.

"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."

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly addressed Crozier's concerns on CNN and explained some of the difficulties of coming up with a good solution.

"I heard about the letter from Capt. Crozier (Tuesday) morning, I know that our command organization has been aware of this for about 24 hours and we have been working actually the last seven days to move those sailors off the ship and get them into accommodations in Guam," Modly said. "The problem is that Guam doesn't have enough beds right now and we're having to talk to the government there to see if we can get some hotel space, create tent-type facilities."

None of the infected sailors are yet suffering from serious symptoms, but the number of cases has multiplied steadily since the first three were discovered on March 24.

(H/T: New York Times)

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