In recent months, the novel Coronavirus, formally known as Covid-19, has begun spreading rapidly throughout communities around the world, and the U.S. military has already begun taking proactive steps aimed at curbing the spread of the infection among service members and their families.
It's important to note that service members are often not a high-risk demographic even if and when they may be infected by Covid-19. The virus, however, can be dangerous to people with underlying health issues or otherwise compromised immune systems living in the surrounding community. The Pentagon also hopes to minimize the affect Covid-19 has on the military's overall readiness–which means it's better to stem the tide of infection than to keep recovering service members in isolation as they rebound from the virus. As a result, making every effort to mitigate the spread of this virus has been deemed a worthwhile enterprise.
The Pentagon has already issued guidance to service members and their families oriented toward protecting themselves from infection and curbing the spread of infection among those who get sick. These practices are not dissimilar from the guidance being provided to the general public through public institutions like the Center for Disease Control.
You can jump directly to coronavirus basic training changes for your specific branch with these links.
The Pentagon’s guidance for preventing the spread of the coronavirus:
Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper speaks to reporters during a news conference at the Pentagon. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Mejia)
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- If soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-percent alcohol
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
What else is the military doing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus?
According to a DoD statement issued on March 9, the military's response to the Coronavirus can be summed up in three objectives:
- Protecting service members and their families
- Ensuring crucial DoD missions continue
- Supporting the whole go government approach to the unfolding situation
A number of military commands have already initiated what the Defense Department refers to as "pandemic procedures," which are a series of pre-planned protocols put into place to rapidly identify service members who may have been exposed to the virus and isolating them from the general and service populations. These patients are treated by military medical personnel with appropriate protective equipment, and are re-evaluated on a day by day basis.
Every military branch is also screening all new recruits and trainees for signs of infection, and isolating any who may have been exposed to the virus or may be exhibiting symptoms of infection. The goal of these tests is not to stop new service members from entering into training, but rather to postpone training until after the recruit or trainee recovers completely and is no longer able to spread the virus to others.
Marine Corps Coronavirus Basic Training Changes
Graduation and Family Day events will continue as scheduled aboard MCRD San Diego and MCRD Parris Island. However, the Marine Corps is asking that no one attend these events if they are currently exhibiting active symptoms of Covid-19 or have been in contact with anyone that may potentially have been infected. Thus far, MCRD Parris Island has not made any official statements regarding potential changes to graduation or family day ceremonies.
Parris Island has released this message pertaining to prevention efforts, however:
Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS) has released this statement regarding recruit training and the coronavirus as it pertains to MCRD San Diego spefically:
We understand that graduation is a very special event for new Marines and their families. In line with Center for Disease Control's efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, we ask that if you are actively sick with a cough or fever, or have been in contact with a suspected case of COVID-19, you not attend graduation or its associated events aboard the Depot. Thousands of family members visit the Depot for graduation weekly, so your decision would be in the interest of public health and the health of our recruit population. For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, please visit the CDC's information page, the NMCPHC information page, and the DOD information page. Links are provided below:
Army Coronavirus Basic Training Changes
*Updated March 11
Fort Sill has announced that beginning March 16, they will suspend attendance at graduation ceremonies until further notice.
Ceremonies will be live streamed for families and supporters on the Fort Sill Facebook page. This is a developing situation with more details to come.
You can read Fort Sill's full announcement below:
You can watch Fort Sill's livestream here.
Fort Leonard Wood
Fort Leonard Wood has announced that attendance at Basic Training family day and graduations will be suspended until further notice after this week. Families and supporters will be able to watch the graduation ceremonies on Facebook Live on the Fort Leonard Wood Facebook page.
Family Day activities on Fort Jackson have been canceled going forward, and soldiers will be allowed to make supervised visits to AAFES activities and to make purchases to prepare them for travel to their next appointed place of duty. No travel with family members in their personal vehicles will be permitted after 1-34 IN BN graduates this week.
You can read the full post from Fort Jackson below:
Air Force Coronavirus Basic Training Changes
The Air Force has announced that it has suspended family members from attending Basic Military Training graduations, effective immediately and until further notice.
Air Force Basic Military Training graduation ceremonies will be live streamed via 37th Training Wing's Facebook page every Friday beginning March 13 at 9 a.m.
You can find the steam here.
You can read the Air Force's complete statement below:
In an effort to minimize the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 and to prioritize the health and safety of Department of the Air Force personnel, the following modifications have been made:
• At the United States Air Force Academy, official travel outside of the United States has been restricted for cadets, cadet candidates and permanent party. Personal/leisure travel to countries with a CDC Level 2 or higher rating is also prohibited. As of now, restrictions will remain in place through the end of March.
• Air Force Basic Military Training has suspended family members from attending graduation until further notice.
• Since South by Southwest events in Austin, Texas, was cancelled, the Air Force's Spark Collider and Pitch Bowl will now take place virtually, March 12.
• The Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado Child Development Center has been closed for cleaning since a parent (family member) tested positive by the state for coronavirus.
• All Department of the Air Force personnel have been directed to follow Center for Disease Control levels for travel guidance.
The Air Force maintains an actively updated page with frequently asked questions here.
Navy Coronavirus Basic Training Changes
Navy Recruit Training has decided to suspend attendance at their graduation ceremonies until further notice. Liberty associated with recruit training graduation has also been canceled. Graduation ceremonies will be live-streamed for families and supporters to watch.
Friday's ceremony will be streamed at 0845 Central Standard Time.
You can watch the stream here.
Here is the Navy's officials statement and associated social media links:
Beginning 13 March, Navy Recruit Training Command (RTC), the Navy's boot camp, will suspend guest attendance at graduation ceremonies to prevent any potential spread of COVID 19 to either Sailors or Navy families.
Graduations themselves will continue, and will be live-streamed on Navy online platforms, including our Facebook page.
Commander, Naval Service training command, which oversees RTC, will continue to monitor the situation and consult with medical experts to decide when it is appropriate to resume guest attendance at graduation ceremonies. There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 among recruits, and RTC has robust screening processes in place for those who arrive each week.
This action is being taken out of an abundance of caution, to both ensure the welfare of Sailors and that RTC can continue its essential mission of producing basically trained Sailors. RTC Recruits impacted by this change are being authorized to call home to directly inform their loved ones.
Liberty will be cancelled for graduates of RTC. They will report directly to their follow-on assignments. Liberty or guest access at those locations will be at the discretion of those commands. Families are encouraged to contact their recruits following graduation for details. We cannot speak on behalf of the commands they will be reporting to regarding their liberty policy.
Coast Guard Coronavirus Basic Training Changes
The Coast Guard has requested that family members planning to attend this week's graduation refrain from attending graduation ceremonies if they are sick, and exercise the CDC and Defense Department's recommended practices for prevention of the spread of coronavirus or any other illness. The Coast Guard outlines those recommendations as such:
-Stay home when you are sick.
-Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
-Wash your hands often with soap and water.
-Implement social distancing interventions in schools, workplaces, and at large events such as graduation.
-Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects like door knobs.
-Be prepared and stay informed on the latest information.
You can see the Coast Guard's full statement below: