Anyone who has ever had COVID-19 will be banned from joining the U.S. military, according to a Defense Department memo circulating on social media.
Pentagon spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell told Military Times the memo is genuine.
The memo from the Military Entrance Processing Command stated: “During the medical history interview or examination, a history of COVID-19, confirmed by either a laboratory test or a clinician diagnosis, is permanently disqualifying.”
The memo provides the steps that Military Entrance Processing Station staff should take when dealing with potential COVID-19 cases and with individuals whose exposure to the coronavirus is confirmed.
“During the screening process, a reported history of confirmed COVID-19 will be annotated ‘Considered disqualifying’“ pic.twitter.com/ZKx91AUbXo
— Free (@Nathaniel_Free) May 4, 2020
Screening will include having one’s temperature taken and answering questions about symptoms and potential contact.
An applicant who fails screening can return in 14 days. An applicant diagnosed with COVID-19 has to wait 28 days after that diagnosis to report to the processing station.
Recruits can seeks waivers for “permanently disqualifying” conditions, though Military Times reported that “without any further guidance for exceptions dealing with COVID-19, a review authority would have no justification to grant a waiver.”
Maxwell did not comment on why a COVID-19 diagnosis would be permanently disqualifying when other similar viral illnesses are not.
Citing an unnamed defense official, CNN reported the Defense Department is unsure of the long-term impacts of COVID-19 and the future health of recruits who have had the disease.
Recruits with COVID-19 have been found at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.
The carrier docked in Guam on March 27. Sailors had been scheduled to return to the ship last month, but positive tests among the crew are causing delays in that schedule.
“The plan for the USS Theodore Roosevelt is conditions-based, not timeline-based,” Navy spokesperson Lt. Rachel McMarr told Politico. “We remain focused on the health and safety of our Sailors, and ensuring the full recovery of all Sailors onboard USS Theodore Roosevelt.”
Capt. Carlos Sardiello said the ship has a purpose and a plan, and will be successful.
“We’re not bunching up like little kids’ soccer. We’re wearing masks. We look like we’re going off to surgery,” he told The Associated Press. “And we’re mindful of cleaning at a very high level.”
“[T]hey knew me from before. I had their back then, and I have their back now. And we’re going to move out,” said Sardiello, who previously led the ship until last November.
“You’ve just got to give them direction and give them the tools that they need.”
“Then, whatever you put in front of them — they’re going to knock it out of the park.”
To address the issue of asymptomatic carriers of the virus in the military, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that random testing would be undertaken.
“One of the challenges that we know is asymptomatic transmission of the disease. It’s something we have known for quite a while but what we didn’t really appreciate until the TR was the fact we are experiencing very high rates in the military,” Esper said Monday.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.