How Lethal Is COVID-19 For The Young And Healthy? Military Ships Offer Case Study
Back in April, the captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Brett Crozier, was relieved of command after sounding the alarm about an outbreak of COVID-19 aboard his ship. The news made national headlines and catalyzed a spirited debate.
Since then, news of the Theodore Roosevelt has largely faded, with hardly anyone acknowledging the most important part about the COVID-19 outbreak: More than 1,100 sailors were infected, and only one died.
From the time the outbreak began and up until early May, the Navy offered daily updates regarding the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Theodore Roosevelt. Once the Navy had completed testing of all sailors onboard, however, the daily updates were concluded. The Navy explained that going forward, it would only report “significant changes” on the ship.
The Theodore Roosevelt has now returned to sea, and the final data offered by the Navy remains at 1,102 cases, with only one reported death. Presumably, additional deaths aboard the ship would qualify as a “significant change,” and thus we can assume that, while still tragic, only one person, 41-year-old Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr., died of the virus. The Navy has not disclosed whether Thacker suffered from any underlying health conditions.
Doing some simple math, COVID-19 aboard the Theodore Roosevelt had a death rate of 0.001 percent, while the estimated death rate for the seasonal flu is 0.1 percent.
This data point offers incredibly useful insight into how COVID-19 affects a young and healthy population. Most enlisted sailors are under 30 years old.
A similarly low death rate has been seen on France’s Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, where more than 1,000 sailors contracted the virus but zero died. These death rates are even lower than estimates in a new CDC report, which estimates the death rate for people
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