Navy Captain Fired for Raising Alarm on Coronavirus Outbreak Tests Positive: Report
Capt. Brett Crozier, the Navy captain who was fired after he tried to raise the alarm to officials about the growing number of coronavirus cases on his ship, has himself tested positive for the virus, The New York Times reported.
Crozier reportedly began showing symptoms before Thursday, when he was removed from command after a letter he wrote begging officials to let his ship port in Guam following a virus outbreak on board was leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle.
He is being quarantined in “distinguished visitors quarters” on Naval Base Guam, according to the Times, which cited two of Crozier’s Naval Academy classmates who are close to the captain. It remains unclear when he tested or received his results.
Neither Crozier nor a Navy spokesperson immediately responded to PEOPLE’s requests for comment.
Crozier, former commander of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, was dismissed by Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, who said in a press release he’d “lost confidence” in Crozier’s leadership capabilities following his March 30 letter.
The letter asked officials to let Crozier isolate his crew of more than 4,000 people in order to help prevent the spread of the virus, as the cramped quarters on the ship — which was docked in Guam following a scheduled port visit — made it impossible to follow social distancing and isolation guidelines.
Modly said Crozier went outside the chain of command and raised “unnecessary” alarm with his letter.
He further criticized Crozier on Monday with a set of scathing remarks to the Roosevelt crew, which were obtained by CNN.
Modly reportedly said Crozier was “too naive or too stupid” to remain in charge following the letter’s leak, and implied Crozier may have leaked it himself by saying the captain committed a “betrayal.”
“If he didn’t think, in my opinion, that this information wasn’t going to get out to the public, in this day and information age that we live in, then he was either A, too naïve or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this,” Modly reportedly said. “The alternative is that he did this on purpose… [It was a] betrayal of trust.”
The Roosevelt had 173 confirmed cases of coronavirus on board as of Monday, and approximately 2,000 crew members have so far been evacuated from the ship, CNN reported.
Modly, meanwhile, previously told the Washington Post Crozier was “panicking,” and he felt it necessary to act before President Donald Trump felt as though he had to intervene.
Trump supported Modly’s decision at a press briefing on Saturday, reportedly saying he thought Crozier’s letter was “terrible.”
Meanwhile, Democratic leaders of the House Armed Services Committee criticized the move in a statement to the Times, acknowledging that while Crozier didn’t handle “the immense pressure appropriately,” firing him was an “overreaction.”
He has been reassigned to the headquarters of the Naval Air Forces Pacific command in San Diego, the Times reported.
The Navy said in a press release Sunday that Roosevelt sailors will be staying in various hotels across Guam during their 14-day isolation.
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