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Over 1,200 service members, DOD civilians have tested positive for coronavirus.


Jack Arnholz

April 5, 2020, 1:54 PM

4 min read

4 min read

The Pentagon will soon announce a new policy requiring face masks for military personnel, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

“We will have a directive coming up on that today,” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos. “Now we’re going to move towards face covering.”

Over 1,200 service members and Department of Defense civilians have tested positive for coronavirus.

“We want to take every measure to protect our troops … (while) making sure we can conduct our national security missions. And to do that we can’t always do the 6 feet distancing whether you’re an attack submarine, a bomber, in a tank so we have to take other measures,” Esper said.

Esper also said he fully supported acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly’s decision to dismiss the Navy captain who raised concerns on the handling of coronavirus on the USS Theodore Roosevelt in a letter to his superiors that went public.

“Secretary Modly made a tough decision — a tough call. I have full faith and confidence in him, in the Navy leadership and I support their decision,” Esper said on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday.

The the Navy fired Capt. Brett Crozier, the commanding officer on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, after he urged that most of his crew of 5,000 be sailors be removed from the aircraft carrier to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Sailors do not need to die,” Crozier wrote in a letter that was leaked to a newspaper, sparking a firestorm of controversy and ultimately leading to his dismissal.

When pressed on how involved Trump was on making the decision to dismiss Crozier, Esper refused to comment.

“This is a captain of a massive ship that’s nuclear powered. And he shouldn’t be talking that way in a letter,” President Donald Trump said of Crozier in a press conference on Saturday. “I thought it was inappropriate.”

ABC News’ Luis Martinez contributed to this report.

This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

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