Defense Secretary Mark Esper publicly disagrees with USS Roosevelt captain’s call to immediately evacuate the warship after more than 100 sailors tested positive for coronavirus – and admits he didn’t read his letter pleading for help

Wednesday, April 1, 2020
By Paul Martin

The USS Theodore Roosevelt was taken out of duty and docked in Guam last week after 25 crew members tested positive for COVID-19
Since then, more than 100 members of the roughly 5,000-person crew have reportedly tested positive
Captain Brett Crozier called to quarantine 90 percent of the crew on land in a four-page letter to Navy top brass on Sunday
‘We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die,’ the captain wrote
Asked if it’s time to evacuate the USS Roosevelt on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said: ‘I don’t think we’re at that point’
He also said he has not ‘had a chance to read [Crozier’s] letter … in detail’
Pacific Fleet Commander Adm John Aquilino said the Navy is working on plans to rotate some of the sailors off the ship and into isolation
He emphasized that a full evacuation will not happen because the ship needs to be prepared to go to battle at any moment
Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

By MEGAN SHEETS
DAILYMAIL.COM
1 April 2020

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper says it is not time to evacuate the coronavirus-stricken USS Theodore Roosevelt after the warship’s captain penned an unprecedented letter pleading for the Navy’s help in protecting its sailors from infection.

The aircraft carrier was ordered to cease sail and docked in Guam last Thursday after 25 sailors on board tested positive for COVID-19.

Since then, more than 100 members of the roughly 5,000-person crew have reportedly tested positive.

In a four-page letter to Navy top brass that was leaked on Tuesday, Captain Brett Crozier warned that the outbreak aboard the vessel is accelerating and asked that over 4,000 sailors be removed and put in isolation.

‘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,’ Crozier wrote.

Esper addressed the extraordinary plea during an interview with CBS News on Tuesday evening.

‘Well, I have not had a chance to read that letter, read in detail,’ he said.

‘I’m going to rely on the Navy chain of command to go out there to assess the situation and to make sure they provide the captain and the crew all the support they need to get the sailors healthy and get the ship back at sea.’

Asked by anchor Norah O’Donnell if it was time to evacuate the USS Roosevelt, Esper said: ‘I don’t think we’re at that point.’

Naval leaders have said they are working on plans to rotate some of the sailors off the ship and into isolation – emphasizing that a full evacuation will not happen because it needs to be prepared to go to battle at any moment.

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