According to Esper, the Department of Defense (DoD) is not "at that point" of evacuating the aircraft carrier and is instead moving medical assistance to the carrier for now, Reuters reported.
"We're moving a lot of supplies and assistance, medical assistance, out to the carrier in Guam. We're providing additional medical personnel as they need it," Esper said in a statement obtained by Reuters, also noting that none of the crew members were seriously ill.
Esper also said that he has not has a chance to read the letter penned by the captain of the carrier urging that the entire crew be isolated.
“Request all available resources to find NAVADMIN [Navy Personnel Command] and CDC [US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] compliant quarantine rooms for my entire crew as soon as possible,” Capt. Brett Crozier, commanding officer of the Roosevelt, wrote in a four-page letter on Monday addressed to the Department of the Navy, Sputnik reported.
“This will require a political solution but it is the right thing to do. We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset - our sailors," Crozier added in the letter.
The warship docked in Guam last week after several members of its crew tested positive for COVID-19. According to an anonymous source who spoke to the San Francisco Chronicle, there are now almost 200 cases of the virus on the ship. About two weeks earlier, which is the virus's incubation period, the ship was docked at the Vietnamese port of Da Nang. The crew members were in contact with locals. The latest data by Worldometer shows that there are at least 207 cases of the coronavirus in Vietnam.