The fast-spreading Chinese virus has successfully imploded America's economy and now threatens to render strategic vessels of the US Navy inoperable, as more crew test positive for COVID-19.
Ten percent of the USS Theodore Roosevelt's (CVN-71) crew has tested positive for the virus, while hundreds of more test results are expected in the coming days, the Navy said on Friday, reported The San Diego Union-Tribune.
The Navy said 92% of the crew had been tested, so far resulting in 447 positive cases, and the test results for 775 sailors are expected shortly. Tests will likely be administrated for the remaining 339 sailors that still need to be screened.
The crew is part of the Navy's fourth Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, launched in 1984, and it can store and deploy up to 90 fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.
The virus-infected aircraft carrier has been docked in Guam since March 26, when cases of the virus started to appear on the ship.
Last week, videos from the vessel were published on social media of sailors cheering for the carrier's commander, who had been fired by superiors for neglecting to take action to mitigate the virus spread.
"There's an entire sea of people," said Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero, co-chair of the political advocacy organization Independent Guahan, indicating that those who cheered onboard CVN-71 as the relieved captain disembarked. "Hardly any of them are wearing masks. Nobody is social distancing. The captain himself exits the ship without a mask and shakes hands with [someone who was] picking him up … And now we're hearing that this captain is positive for COVID."
Here is Captain Crozier walking away from his ship while sailors chant his name after he was relieved from duty for blowing the whistle on a coronavirus contamination aboard the USS Roosevelt.— Amee Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) April 3, 2020
He sacrificed himself and it sounds like everyone knows it. pic.twitter.com/hwiu7Z1MVV
The commanding officer, Capt. Brett Crozier wrote a letter to the Navy asking for assistance that was leaked to the media. This resulted in Crozier's firing.
After Crozier was relieved, Navy Secretary Thomas Modly flew to the aircraft carrier, docked in Guam, and addressed the crew over the loudspeaker, indicating that Crozier was naive and stupid if he believed the letter wouldn't be leaked to the press.
About a day after Modly made the remarks, he resigned after audio of his announcement was leaked.
Around 3,155 sailors who tested negative have been moved to land-based facilities for isolation.
Now Guam residents are concerned that they might contract the virus. In late March, a letter by local community leaders told Guam's Gov., Lou Leon Guerrero, they're "concerned" that infections could spread from the Navy's vessel to the local community.
Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned last week, "We have too many ships at sea. … To think that it will never happen again is not a good way to plan."
If Hyten is right, then the Navy could follow the footsteps of the cruise ship industry and suspend sails, that would be dangerous for America's global hegemonic power in the western Pacific as China ramps up war drills in the South China Sea.