A sailor who was deployed aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier hit by an outbreak of the new coronavirus has died, U.S. military authorities announced Monday.
He became the first active duty member of the U.S. military to succumb to the disease.
The outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt turned into a political football in the U.S., after the captain of the ship issued an urgent call for assistance amid a fast-moving spread of infections aboard the nuclear-powered ship.
The letter leaked to the media and Brett Crozier, the captain, was removed from his post.
Following this, the then-acting Navy secretary Thomas Modly resigned, after audio of him berating Crozier and calling him stupid was also leaked.
Crozier disembarked the ship to sustained cheers from his crew and was hailed in some circles for acting to save lives, with thousands aboard the aircraft carrier at risk and the virus’ spread picking up pace.
Modly said he lost confidence in the commanding officer, who he charged went outside the chain-of-command and should have known his letter would leak.
The fate of the ship’s captain is still up in the air, with President Donald Trump indicating he may seek some remedy for Crozier.
At least 585 sailors who were aboard the ship have tested positive for Covid-19.
About 4,000 of the nearly 5,000 crew on board have been removed from the vessel, which is docked off Guam, a U.S. territory and strategic base.
“The entire department is deeply saddened by the loss of our first active duty member to Covid-19,” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said in a statement.
“We remain committed to protecting our personnel and their families while continuing to assist in defeating this outbreak,” he added.