Capt. Brett Crozier, hailed by his crew but fired as skipper of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt by Navy leadership following a leaked bombshell letter, has tested positive for COVID-19, the New York Times first reported.
The paper cited two Naval Academy classmates of Crozier’s who are close to him and his family.
A Navy spokesman declined to comment to the Times on Crozier’s COVID-19 status. Navy officials could not immediately respond to questions from Navy Times about Crozier’s health status or the New York Times report. The commander began exhibiting symptoms before he was removed from the warship on Thursday, two of his classmates said.
Crozier was fired Thursday following a leak to The San Francisco Chronicle of a letter he had emailed to Navy leaders that detailed the service’s failures to provide necessary resources to swiftly move sailors off the carrier and disinfect areas on board as the virus spread throughout the 4,800-person ship.
Crozier had proposed that the ship be mostly evacuated and the majority of his sailors moved into isolated quarantine in Guam.
Hundreds of sailors on the carrier Theodore Roosevelt applauded and chanted their captain’s name as Crozier left the ship Thursday.
On Sunday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper insisted that the firing of Crozier was not prompted by White House complaints and that military leaders will conduct a full investigation into the incident.
In an interview on CNN’s State of the Union, Esper backed the decision by acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly to dismiss Crozier.
“I think Secretary Modly laid out very reasonably and very deliberately the reasons (for the firing),” he said. “And I think when all those facts come to bear, we’ll have a chance to understand why Secretary Modly did what he did.”
On Sunday, the Navy confirmed there have been 155 Roosevelt sailors — so far — who have tested positive for COVID-19. None have suffered any serious medical symptoms as a result of the illness, the Navy said. Approximately 55 percent of the ship’s crew is still awaiting testing.
Howard Altman is an award-winning editor and reporter who was previously the military reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and before that the Tampa Tribune, where he covered USCENTCOM, USSOCOM and SOF writ large among many other topics.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.