The entrance to Camp Lejeune is show in this undated file photo.

The entrance to Camp Lejeune is show in this undated file photo. (The Gaston Gazette/TNS)

WASHINGTON — Two sailors — including an active-duty doctor — have died within the last week of complications from the coronavirus, the Navy announced in a statement Wednesday. 

Navy Capt. Corby Ropp, 48, died Friday due to coronavirus-related complications at Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C., according to the Navy.

Ropp served as the department leader of ophthalmology and refractive surgery at the Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our shipmate and ophthalmologist Capt. Ropp,” said Capt. Reginald Ewing III, commander of NMRTC Camp Lejeune. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Capt. Ropp’s family, coworkers and friends during this extremely difficult time.”

On Monday, Petty Officer 1st Class Allen Hillman, a master-at-arms assigned to Navy Reserve Volunteer Training Unit in Boise, Idaho, died while hospitalized with the coronavirus. 

Cmdr. Megan Fine, commander of the Navy Operational Support Center in Boise, said in the statement that Hillman “was a big part of our community.” 

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our friend and shipmate MA1 Hillman,” Fine said. “We will continue to support his family and shipmates during this difficult time.”  

The Navy did not say whether the sailors had been vaccinated against the coronavirus.  

As of July 21, 26 service members had died from the coronavirus and 1,832 were hospitalized, according to the Pentagon. The sailors’ deaths bring the total to at least 28.

In total, about 205,910 troops have tested positive for the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the Pentagon. More than 1.2 million active-duty, Reserve, and National Guard troops have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for months has been considering whether to mandate the vaccines once they receive full approval from the Food and Drug Administration, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Harker said in June. 

Federal law prevents vaccines under emergency-use authorization from becoming mandatory unless the president finds it necessary. 

President Joe Biden is expected on Thursday to announce vaccine requirements for all federal employees or face repeated testing, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The Pentagon has not said whether such a requirement would apply to service members.

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Caitlin Doornbos covers the Pentagon for Stars and Stripes after covering the Navy’s 7th Fleet as Stripes’ Indo-Pacific correspondent at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. Previously, she worked as a crime reporter in Lawrence, Kan., and Orlando, Fla., where she was part of the Orlando Sentinel team that placed as finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news. Caitlin has a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Kansas and master’s degree in defense and strategic studies from the University of Texas at El Paso.

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