Navy captain removed from command tests positive for coronavirus

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The USS Theodore Roosevelt, a Nimitz-class nuclear powered aircraft carrier, is docked along Kilo Wharf of Naval Base Guam in Sumay, Friday, April 3, 2020. (Rick Cruz/The Pacific Daily via AP)

The Navy captain removed from command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt last week after warning that action was needed to save the lives of his crew from a coronavirus outbreak has tested positive for the virus, according to The New York Times on Sunday.

Capt. Brett Crozier began exhibiting symptoms before he was removed from the warship on Thursday, the Times reported, citing two Naval Academy classmates of Crozier’s who are close to him and his family.

CNN has reached out to the Navy for comment. A Navy spokesman declined to comment to the Times on Crozier’s status.

Crozier was relieved of his command last week by acting US Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, for what Modly called “poor judgment,” going outside the chain of command and too widely disseminating a memo over an unsecured system.

In a memo sent earlier last week, Crozier pleaded with Navy leaders that “decisive action is required” to remove a majority of the ship’s personnel and isolate them for two weeks. The letter was published in the San Francisco Chronicle on Tuesday.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Sunday defended Crozier’s removal, telling CNN’s Jake Tapper the move is an example of how “we hold leaders accountable for their actions.”

“I think acting Secretary (Thomas) Modly made a very tough decision — a decision that I support. It was based on his view that he had lost faith and confidence in the captain based on his actions,” Esper said on “State of the Union.” “It’s just another example (of) how we hold leaders accountable for their actions.”

There is an ongoing investigation into the matter, Esper told Tapper.

Esper said that 155 sailors from Roosevelt have tested positive for COVID-19, and that more than half of those aboard the aircraft carrier have been tested. There have been no hospitalizations, according to the secretary.

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