(WCMH/AP) — Capt. Brett E. Crozier, who was fired after he sought help for his coronavirus-stricken Aircraft carrier, has tested positive for COVID-19 coronavirus, according to a report from the New York Times.
A Navy spokesperson declined to comment to the Times about Crozier’s status.
Videos showing hundreds of sailors gathered on the ship, chanting and applauding Crozier—as he walked down the ramp, turned, saluted, waved and got into a waiting car—went viral on social media Friday.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly abruptly fired Crozier on Thursday, saying the commander created a panic by widely distributing a memo detailing the escalating virus outbreak on his ship and pleading for help from leadership. Modly said Crozier “demonstrated extremely poor judgment” in the middle of a crisis.
The ship is docked in Guam, and so far 137 of the nearly 5,000 sailors on board have tested positive for the virus. The Navy had said up to 3,000 will be taken off the ship and quarantined by Friday evening to stem the spread of the virus. However, crew must remain on the ship to maintain critical systems and protect the carrier.
On Friday, Jonathan Hoffman, the chief Pentagon spokesman, said Defense Secretary Mark Esper supported Modly’s decision to fire Crozier from his command job. He said Modly told Esper he had lost confidence in the captain.
Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told FoxNews that he trusted Modly’s judgement. He said it was a difficult decision, and that Modly is accountable to the American people for it.
Crozier, in his memo, warned of a growing outbreak of the coronavirus on the ship, asking for permission to isolate the bulk of his crew members on shore, an extraordinary move to take a carrier out of duty in an effort to save lives.
He said that if commanders didn’t act quickly, they would be “failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset, our sailors.”
A number of lawmakers have questioned the firing as too hasty a decision.
Hoffman says 41% of the sailors on the ship have been tested, and results are still coming in. He says no sailors are hospitalized.