USS Theodore Roosevelt coronavirus: Five sailors who were cleared to return to the US Navy.

Five US Navy sailors who were cleared to return to the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt after two negative tests have tested positive for COVID-19, a defense official told Insider Thursday.

All five of the sailors have been removed from the ship, as have 18 other sailors who were in close contact with them.

The sailors, a defense official explained, had previously tested positive for the virus and were removed from the ship and placed in isolation on Guam. All five sailors completed the mandatory 14-day quarantine and tested negative twice before they were allowed to return to the ship.

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The outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt began in late March with only a few cases. As of April 30, there were 1,102 cases among sailors assigned to the ship.

The virus upended the carrier’s Pacific deployment, forcing it into port in Guam, where it has remained for over a month as the Navy works to get the situation under control.

Over 80% of the carrier’s crew of roughly 4,800 sailors were evacuated ashore and placed in isolation in hotels and other facilities.

The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), front, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59), left, and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), transit in formation.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anthony J. Rivera
In recent weeks, sailors have begun returning to the ship, but only on the condition that they meet the health requirements.

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“You have to go through two different checks plus being COVID tested twice,” Capt. Carlos Sardiello, commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, told CBS News earlier this month. “We sideline sailors for the slightest thing. Sniffles.”

But there are some challenges.

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The New York Times reported Thursday that one sailor hid a loss of smell, a key symptom of COVID-19, from medical examiners for days after returning to the ship.

In response, a sailor in the medical department sent out a message begging crewmembers to be honest. “Please stress the importance of being truthful so we don’t potentially have Covid+ aboard this ship,” the email reportedly read.

The latest development in the USS Theodore Roosevelt saga comes as roughly 3,000 sailors have returned to the USS Theodore Roosevelt and is an indication that the fight for a healthy ship is yet to be won.

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