The captain of a U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier experiencing a dangerous coronavirus outbreak is pleading with the Navy to let the sailors out of the ship’s close quarters and into onshore quarantine spaces.
In a letter first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle on Tuesday, USS Theodore Roosevelt Capt. Brett Crozier made a rare plea with senior military officials as he grappled with more than 100 of his 4,000-plus sailors having COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, just in the past week.
“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,” he wrote Monday from off the coast of Guam, where the ship is currently docked.
Socially isolating those who are infected is impossible given the ship’s tight quarters.
“Due to a warship’s inherent limitations of space, we are not doing this. The spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating,” Crozier continued in his four-page letter, which has since been obtained by other media outlets.
He is seeking “compliant quarantine rooms” on shore in Guam for every member of the crew. But acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly told CNN Tuesday morning that’s not yet feasible.
“I heard about the letter from Capt. Crozier this morning,” he said. “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. 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.”
Crozier’s letter comes as more than 170,000 people in the U.S. have tested positive for the virus; more than 3,400 of those have died.
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