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Theodore Roosevelt sailors test positive for COVID-19 during at-sea training

“A small number” of sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt tested positive for COVID-19 Thursday during at-sea training, Naval Air Forces officials have confirmed.

A defense official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly on the outbreak, told Navy Times Friday morning that two TR sailors had tested positive.

“The Sailors self-reported after experiencing symptoms, received immediate medical treatment, and were transported off the ship for isolation,” Naval Air Forces spokesman Cmdr. Zachary Harrell said in an emailed statement. “Theodore Roosevelt is aggressively applying all mitigation measures in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Navy guidance in order to protect the health of our Sailors and stop the spread of the virus as we continue to identify and eliminate any of the virus’s potential vectors.”

Those new TR cases come after the novel coronavirus infected roughly 25 percent of the crew during their deployment earlier this year, an outbreak that forced the ship to sideline in Guam for months this spring.

They also illuminate once again the challenges the Navy faces in controlling an airborne, highly infectious virus within the close and poorly ventilated confines of a warship, a virus that can spread even when an infected person is showing no symptoms.

The outbreak caps a tough week for the sailors and families of the TR.

On Tuesday, Seaman Isaiah Peralta fatally shot himself while standing security watch on a pier at Naval Air Station North Island, California, TR’s home port.

TR got underway a few hours after Peralta shot himself around 8 a.m.

The new COVID cases on the ship also come as TR’s crew and families prepare for another deployment, just months after the ship returned home in July.

TR community members told Navy Times late last month that sailors are being told to expect the “double-pump” deployment to take place late this year or early next.

While they had been told before TR left in January to expect back-to-back deployments, some community members expressed frustration with the plan going ahead after the harrowing COVID cruise that also saw the firing of the carrier’s commanding officer, Capt. Brett Crozier, after his pleas for help were leaked to the media.

Navy officials have declined to discuss deployment schedules but told Navy Times last month that TR is in the portion of its 36-month readiness cycle where it must be prepared to deploy on “short notice” and that “deployment resiliency” resources and other assistance are being provided to the carrier’s crew and family members.

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