Coronavirus: First sailor on virus-stricken USS Roosevelt dies

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USS Theodore Roosevelt in Hawaii, April 2018Image source, Getty Images/Smith Collection
Image caption,
File photo of the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier

A sailor who was serving aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier has become the first on the ship to die from Covid-19, the US Navy announced.

The sailor was moved to an isolation house on Guam after testing positive, where he was found unresponsive on 9 April and died on 13 April.

Over 500 sailors on the USS Roosevelt have tested positive for the virus.

The ship's captain was fired this month after his letter pleading for help with the outbreak was leaked to US media.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt is currently stationed in Guam, with sailors quarantining ashore. The name of the sailor who died has been withheld by the Navy until the family is notified.

Defence secretary Mark Esper said the department "is deeply saddened by the loss of our first active duty member to Covid-19".

"We remain committed to protecting our personnel and their families while continuing to assist in defeating this outbreak."

According to a statement by the Navy, the sailor tested positive for the virus on 30 March and was isolated at the naval base with four others.

He received twice-daily medical checks and was found unresponsive on Thursday morning. Fellow sailors administered CPR and the sailor was transferred to the navy hospital.

The Navy reports that 92% of the crew have tested for Covid-19, with 585 positive cases and 3,724 negative. Nearly 4,000 sailors have been moved off the vessel.

On 30 March, the vessel's captain, Brett Crozier, sent a letter to defence officials begging for assistance with the outbreak on board, saying the spread was "accelerating" and it was impossible to contain in the ship's cramped quarters.

His subsequent firing provoked a public outcry and led to the resignation of acting Navy secretary Thomas Modly.

Mr Modly said he removed Capt Crozier for allegedly leaking the letter and creating "the impression the Navy was not responding", claiming that the captain's actions were "naive" and "stupid".

He apologised before resigning.