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Byron native aboard U.S. Navy aircraft carrier shares COVID-19 outbreak experience

Sailor on USS TR 1

ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -- U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt was taken out of commission earlier this year. Not because of any malfunction or enemy attack, but a COVID-19 outbreak.

Infected crew members have since recovered and the ship is now back at sea.

One of the sailors on board the Roosevelt is Byron native Jacob Torgerson, an Information Systems Technician 3rd Class.

He tested negative for the virus, but more than 1,000 members of the 4,800 crew members tested positive.

"When I first hear about it, I didn't really think it effected as much as it did, it was just the flu or whatever," said Torgerson. "I kinda thought what everyone else thought."

For isolation, Torgerson spent about three weeks in a hotel room while the ship was ported in Guam at the end of March.

"For me it's all been pretty normal," said Torgerson. "I mean the only thing was I got a little break, I got to spend some time in a nice, cushy hotel room, away from the ship, away from work for a little bit, that was nice. Got to talk to my wife plenty."

Since April 29th, COVID-19 negative crew members have slowly been able to re-board the ship and get back to work.

"It's been pretty different on the ship, everybody's wearing a mask of course," said Torgerson. "There's pieces of tape all over the ground making sure we're staying apart in chow lines and things like that."

There's also a lot more cleaning with bleach, all in an effort to keep conditions safe and get crew members back to work.

"Everybody who's here, we're allowed to be doing our jobs again which is nice," said Torgerson. "A lot of people are pretty relieved about that, I know I am. Don't really worry about us out here, we're confident about being back at sea and everybody is ready to go."

Sarah Gannon

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