Army closing recruiting stations due to coronavirus outbreak

Army closing recruiting stations due to coronavirus outbreak
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The Army’s top leaders on Friday said that the service is closing its recruitment stations as the military looks to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“We are going to basically virtual recruiting, much of that is done on social media and that allows us to protect our soldiers and also protect the new recruits,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville told reporters at the Pentagon.

He added that recruiting stations are closing “right now as we speak,” and will continue over the next several days. 

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Army Chief of Staff Ryan McCarthyRyan McCarthyOvernight Defense: Trump's battle with Pentagon poses risks in November | Lawmakers launch Fort Hood probe | Military members can't opt out of tax deferral Lawmakers launch investigation into Fort Hood after 28th death this year Overnight Defense: China aims to double nuclear arsenal | Fort Hood commander removed after string of deaths MORE, who spoke alongside McConville, said the closures are part of reevaluating policies “that don’t make sense in time of a national crisis. ... This involves evolving of how we recruit.”

The Army is recent years has struggled to meet recruiting goals and increasingly used social media platforms – including Facebook, Instagram and the massively popular Chinese-owned TikTok - to recruit young people into the ranks.

Asked how the closures are expected to affect Army recruiting, McCarthy replied that “it’s all going to depend on duration” of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We’re looking at this really hard over the next 15 days,” he said, adding that the Army was “doing very well,” on recruiting before the virus.

McConville said basic training still continues, albeit with new, “extensive procedures in place” to prevent any recruit from bringing the virus into the military.

Those procedures include an initial screening in the recruit’s home state, another screening at the military entrance processing centers, and a screening once they are moved to initial training facilities with a quarantine “even though they may show no signs to make sure there’s no issues,” before training begins. 

McConville said they’ve identified six recruits “that had some type of possible symptoms,” through this method.  

Currently, there are 45 confirmed coronavirus cases in the Army, including 21 soldiers — eight of whom are in medical treatment facilities — six civilians, eight family members and 10 contractors.