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2 Apr, 2020 09:22

Thousands of quarantined sailors from USS Theodore Roosevelt to be temporarily housed in Guam hotels

Thousands of quarantined sailors from USS Theodore Roosevelt to be temporarily housed in Guam hotels

Sailors from a coronavirus-infected US aircraft carrier are to occupy hundreds of hotel rooms in Guam as the US Navy expedites blanket testing of the crew. Earlier, the captain of the ship wrote a scolding memo on the evacuation.

USS Theodore Roosevelt had to cut short its mission in the South China Sea and dock in Guam last week due to an outbreak of the novel coronavirus on board. The ship herself is unsuitable for proper quarantine measures, while Naval Base Guam doesn't have the capacity to house enough crew members in quarantine. So Navy leaders are in talks with Guam hoteliers and preparing to occupy vacant rooms.

By the end of the week it is expected that 2,700 of the approximately 4,800 Theodore Roosevelt crew members will be on the shore either on the base or in hotels, journalists were told during a Pentagon briefing on Wednesday. Around 1,000 people have already been evacuated. Guam Visitors Bureau says the island has 8,860 hotel rooms.

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The sailors will be staying in isolation under military guard and will not be interacting with hotel staff, according to Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero.

“They're not going to be going in to change the linens, they're not going to be working in direct contact with these individuals,” she said. “My understanding is the military is going to set up a process to make sure there is no contact.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, almost a quarter of the carrier crew has been screened for the virus, according to Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly. Of the 1,273 people tested, 93 results came back positive, with more confirmations likely. Seven of the identified carriers had no symptoms of the disease.

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Modly said Captain Brett Crozier, the commanding officers of the aircraft carrier, is unlikely to be reprimanded for a scolding memo about the situation on his ship, which was leaked to the media earlier this week.

“I don't know who leaked the letter to the media; that would be something that would violate the principles of good order if he were responsible for that, but I don't know that,” Modly said. “The fact that he wrote the letter of his to his chain of command to express his concerns would absolutely not result in any type of retaliation.”

The memo, explained Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday, was sent in the hopes of speeding up the evacuation to a higher pace than the chain of command had anticipated. In the memo Crozier said sailors “do not need to die” during peacetime and that failure to act quickly would cost command the faith of the crewmembers.

Modly stressed that a full evacuation of the infected ship was not on the table. “This ship has weapons on it, it has munitions on it, it has expensive aircraft and it has a nuclear power plant. It requires a certain number of people on that ship to maintain the safety and the security of the ship.”

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