The US Navy captain removed from command after he asked the Navy for help with the coronavirus outbreak on board his warship has now tested positive for COVID-19, sources tell the New York Times. Capt. Brett Crozier, who ended up getting assistance from Guam, came down with symptoms before he was relieved of his command Thursday, according to two of his Naval Academy classmates who remain close to him and his family. As of Sunday, there were 155 confirmed cases among the nearly 5,000 personnel on board, according to a CNN interview with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. No one had yet required hospitalization, more than half the ship had been tested, and 1,500 had been evacuated to land, per Fox News. Crozier is currently quarantined on Naval Base Guam; when his quarantine is complete, a Navy spokesperson says he has been reassigned to a San Diego position.
His removal has sparked criticism from online commenters, Democratic lawmakers, and the Navy "rank and file" alike. The Times notes that Crozier's diagnosis, which a defense official confirmed to Fox, "is likely to fuel further skepticism of the Navy’s handling of the outbreak" aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier. (He was fired because his letter, which called out the Navy's poor handling of the outbreak, was sent to Navy leaders via "non-secure unclassified email" and ultimately leaked to the media.) Esper said all branches of the military relieve commanders before a probe is carried out if confidence has been lost in their leadership, but that an investigation is now being done. Though President Trump said he fully supports Crozier's removal, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden told ABC Sunday, "I think it’s close to criminal the way they’re dealing with this guy." (Read more coronavirus stories.)