In an extremely worrisome development signaling the coronavirus peak in the United States could last longer than expected, the US Navy has found that most COVID-19 cases aboard the virus-stricken aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt are among sailors who are asymptomatic.
"Sweeping testing of the entire crew of the coronavirus-stricken U.S. aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt may have revealed a clue about the pandemic: The majority of the positive cases so far are among sailors who are asymptomatic, officials say," Reuters reports.
This suggests the virus could be spreading more frequently by stealth mode in the broader population, with many more people than is known walking around walking around with the disease unawares.
At least 655 Roosevelt sailors have now tested positive, including one death and multiple hospitalizations, out of a total crew of a about 4,800. It's startling that the Navy has found that out of over 600 COVID-19 infected sailors, the majority have displayed no symptoms. Testing is about 95% complete on the entire crew since the ship was diverted to Guam last month amid a spiraling crisis on board.
“With regard to COVID-19, we’re learning that stealth in the form of asymptomatic transmission is this adversary’s secret power,” Rear Admiral Bruce Gillingham, surgeon general of the Navy, told reporters.
The Navy specified that 60% of the Roosevelt's positive cases "so far have not shown symptoms". Crucially, Reuters points out that the "figure is higher than the 25% to 50% range offered on April 5 by Dr. Anthony Fauci".
This is likely due the fact that enlisted military ranks tend to be already very healthy individuals in their 20's and early 30's. The carrier crew also provides a key active case study given the isolation of nearly 5,000 people apart from broader society, and the young, fit demographic.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper told NBC’s Today on Thursday that the conclusions regarding asymptomatic spread aboard the ship conclusions are “disconcerting”. Esper said, “It has revealed a new dynamic of this virus: that it can be carried by normal, healthy people who have no idea whatsoever that they are carrying it,” Esper said.
While this is not a new revelation, the case of the Roosevelt carrier and its crew provides shocking and clear confirmation that this reality is likely playing out on a much broader scale than previously thought.