Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday 155 sailors aboard the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt tested positive for the coronavirus, and defended the removal of its captain for operating outside the chain of command with a leaked letter about the outbreak.
In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Esper called the removal of Capt. Brett Crozier “a very tough decision” by acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly.
“Over half [of the ship crew] have been tested, only 155 sailors tested positive,” he said, adding all of those cases were “mild to moderate” with “no hospitalizations.”
"I think acting Secretary (Thomas) Modly made a very tough decision — a decision that I support. It was based on his view that he had lost faith and confidence in the captain based on his actions. It's just another example (of) how we hold leaders accountable for their actions."
He added that there’s an investigation underway in the matter.
“[Modly] did not have faith and confidence in Capt. Crozier,” he said, urging speculation about the incident to end until “all the facts come to bear” in the investigation.
In a separate interview on ABC News’ “This Week,” Esper said the Pentagon would “move toward face coverings.”
“[W]e can’t always do six feet distancing whether you’re in an attack submarine, a bomber, in a tank, so we have to take other measures,” he said.
“But we’re going to provide them all the guidance they need to adjust it in whatever’s unique to their situation, their circumstance or the mission set,” he added.
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