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Roosevelt carrier holds at-sea simulations as 13 sailors positive for COVID-19 again

Crew members aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt complete a fast cruise exercise while in harbor in Guam. Photo courtesy of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command/Twitter
Crew members aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt complete a "fast cruise" exercise while in harbor in Guam. Photo courtesy of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command/Twitter

May 18 (UPI) -- The Navy said Monday that although the USS Theodore Roosevelt will not soon leave Guam, the crew, as it returns, is undertaking simulated at-sea conditions, an exercise known as a "fast cruise," to maintain its capability.

The exercise was announced as the branch also said over the weekend that 13 sailors aboard the carrier tested positive for the COVID-19 virus after recovering from illness -- and one was diagnosed with tuberculosis.

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The ship has been in Guam since late March, after an outbreak of the virus forced the crew to be placed in isolation or quarantine at U.S. Naval Base Guam.

Roosevelt was then scrubbed top to bottom by sailors, who dubbed the effort "bleach-a-palooza," and the Navy adopted maintenance procedures and strategies to attempt to stop spread of the coronavirus while also getting back to work.

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"Fast cruise is a major milestone for the ship and for the crew," Capt. Carlos Sardiello, the ship's commander, said in a statement. "Our sailors have tested all of the ship's systems individually, but this is our opportunity to integrate all of that together and show that Theodore Roosevelt is ready and able to go back to sea."

At the end of April, the Navy reported that over 1,100 active cases were counted, although 2,900 sailors, the majority of the crew, had returned to the ship by last week.

Personnel slowly returned to the ship until early May, when some displayed cough and fever, symptoms of the illness. Some also displayed body aches and headaches, which are expanded COVID-19 symptoms, slowing the crew's return to the ship.

RELATED Navy adapts maintenance procedures, strategies for containing COVID-19

Additionally, one crew member was diagnosed with tuberculosis, a bacterial infection, Navy spokesperson Cmdr. Myers Vasquez said, noting "The individual has been removed from the ship, isolated, and will remain under the direct care of the naval health system until cleared by doctors."

Last week, the Navy confirmed one sailor had tested positive for the virus again, and on Saturday confirmed that at least five and as many as 13 sailors, who tested negative after their quarantine, had tested positive again.

The banch added that the sailors "met rigorous recovery criteria, exceeding CDC guidelines," adding that "These five sailors developed influenza-like illness symptoms and did the right thing reporting to medical for evaluation."

RELATED Navy to open 'deeper investigation' into COVID-19 outbreak on Roosevelt

The Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General announced an evaluation last week into the Navy's procedures to "determine whether the Navy has implemented policies and procedures to prevent and mitigate the spread of infectious diseases, such as coronavirus-disease-2019 on ships and submarines.

"In addition, we will determine whether mitigation measures that are effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 were implemented across the fleet," DoD IG said.

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