Roosevelt Sailor with COVID-19 Found Unresponsive in Guam

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Sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) move meals
Sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) move meals, ready to eat (MREs) for sailors who have tested negative for COVID-19 and are asymptomatic at local hotels in an effort to implement social distancing and stop the spread of COVID-19, April 7, 2020. (U.S. Navy photo/Julio Rivera)

A sailor assigned to an aircraft carrier that has been sidelined in Guam due to the spread of the novel coronavirus was found unresponsive Thursday and is now in an intensive care unit.

The sailor is a member of the crew of the carrier Theodore Roosevelt, which reported its first cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, on March 24. According to a Navy official, the sailor had been in isolation in Guam, where thousands of sailors have been moved off the ship and into hotel rooms and other facilities.

He or she had tested positive for the disease 10 days ago, NBC News first reported. There are now 416 COVID-19 cases among the crew, the Navy official said, a sharp increase from the 286 reported Wednesday.

Air Force Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed Thursday that one of the Roosevelt's crew members is being treated in ICU. The situation on that ship can't be seen as a "one-of-a-kind issue," he warned.

Related: More Than Half of the Navy's Coronavirus Cases Are on the Carrier Theodore Roosevelt

"To think it will never happen again is not a good way to plan," Hyten told reporters from the Pentagon. "But what we have to do is plan for operations in these COVID environments."

The situation onboard the Roosevelt led Thomas Modly, who was serving as acting Navy secretary, to resign this week. Modly had removed the carrier's commanding officer from his job last week after Capt. Brett Crozier sent a four-page letter pleading with the Navy to evacuate his ship as coronavirus cases spread among the crew; the letter was printed by a newspaper.

In his letter, Crozier warned that it was impossible to follow health guidelines for social distancing onboard the carrier, where space is tight and sailors share restrooms and dining facilities.

"Sailors do not need to die," he wrote. "If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset -- our Sailors."

Crozier's crew members applauded him for breaking protocol for their health and safety. Modly said Crozier's actions caused unnecessary panic on and off the ship.

Modly resigned Tuesday after flying to Guam to give a speech to the Roosevelt's crew. Media outlets, including Military.com, obtained recordings of that speech, in which he can be heard disparaging Crozier. Crozier himself has tested positive for COVID-19.

USA Today and The Washington Post reported that Modly's 35-hour round trip on a Gulfstream 550 cost taxpayers more than $243,000.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday issued a message to the force Wednesday addressing the recent leadership shake-ups and chaos following Crozier's letter and relief and Modly's resignation.

"Everyone must pull together," he said. "In this new environment of coronavirus, we're all learning, adapting and improving by the hour. There is no better example of this than USS Theodore Roosevelt -- staring down an invisible enemy -- dedicated in their efforts -- making phenomenal progress, and providing lessons for the Navy and beyond."

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

Read moreModly's Final Message to the Fleet: 'I Lost Situational Awareness'

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