Coronavirus Survivors Barred From Joining The Military
The United States military will not be recruiting people who have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a proposal in a memo from the Military Entrance Processing Command (MEPCOM).
The details included in the memo were confirmed by the Pentagon, which referred to them as “interim guidance.”
The memo reads:
“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.”
Guidelines regarding the handling of confirmed COVID-19 cases in applicants have also been laid out in the memo.
“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
Furthermore, applicants at any one of the 65 Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS) across the U.S. need to be tested for a potential coronavirus infection.
If a person seems likely positive, they can go back to the MEPS if their symptoms have disappeared in a two-week period of time. If, however, someone has tested positive through a clinical diagnosis or a laboratory test, they can go back to MEPS 28 post-diagnosis.
Regardless, their application will be marked as “permanently disqualifying,” and while people can ask for a waiver, the memo does not detail further information on whether there will be coronavirus exception, which means that “a review authority would have no justification to grant a waiver,” according to the Military Times.
While the ban focuses on COVID-19 survivors, other applicants with histories of other viral illnesses are allowed to enter the military as long as the illnesses are not chronic.
It is possible that the ban is based on limited coronavirus research, as there are still many things to be found out about the issue: for example, the assessment and permanence of the damage it causes to the body and lungs and whether being a survivor makes a person immune or likely to catch it again.
Furthermore, the memo comes just as military recruiters get ready to face a large number of students deciding on their post-graduate summer plans or if they will return to school during fall.
While the number of COVID-19 cases in the military is being kept secret by the Pentagon, Defense Department data shows that there are more than 6500 cases at over 150 bases in each U.S. state with the exception of Montana, Iowa, and Minnesota. Cases have also been reported by the National Guard in 20 states at a minimum.
It is not yet certain whether the military will dismiss service members after they recover from the virus.
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