Navy Capt. Brett E. Crozier, who was relieved of duty from the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt after sounding alarm about about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), has tested positive for the virus, said two sources for The New York Times. The individuals are described as a two of his classmates from the Naval Academy. They were close to him and relatives.
Sources said he was showing symptoms of the disease before getting taken from the aircraft carrier on Thursday. He was now being quarantined at Navel Base Guam, but it wasn’t clear when he learned about his test diagnosis.
Crozier wrote a four-page letter to senior military officials. It was obtained and published by the San Francisco Chronicle. The captain asked for on-shore quarantine rooms for his entire crew ASAP. He acknowledged that this looked like an “extraordinary measure,” but called it necessary.
“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,” he wrote.
But Crozier was relieved of duty, and a top official attributed this to the manner in which he voiced his complaints: sending the message in an unclassified email to a lot of people.
“I have no doubt in my mind that Captain Crozier did what he thought was in the best interest of the safety and well-being of his crew,” Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said. “Unfortunately, it did the opposite. It unnecessarily raised the alarm of the families of our sailors and Marines with no plans to address those concerns.”
Crozier had to undergo quarantine before starting his new work at the Naval Air Forces Pacific command.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper defended their handling of the situation. Half of the sailors on the ship have been tested, and “only” 155 of those returned positive, he said on State of the Union. Cases were described as mild or moderate, with no hospitalizations.
Colin Kalmbacher contributed to this report.
[Image of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt via Dan Kitwood/Getty Images]
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