Marines pause sending new recruits to South Carolina boot camp

Marines pause sending new recruits to South Carolina boot camp
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The Marine Corps is temporarily pausing sending new recruits to its Parris Island, S.C., training installation over concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, the service said Monday.

“The preservation of our Marines, recruits and their families is the highest priority for Marine Corps Recruiting during this national emergency,” Marines Commandant Gen. David Berger said in a statement. “With that in mind, we’ve paused this week’s shipping of new recruits to Parris Island and will revise our overall shipping plan to ensure we are able to meet the nation’s needs while protecting its next generation of Marines.”

Recruits who are already at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island will continue their training "with continued emphasis on personal and environmental cleanliness and social distancing," the Marines said in a news release.

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Parris Island is one of two locations that provide basic training for the Marines. Male recruits from east of the Mississippi and all female recruits from the entire country are trained there.

At a press briefing last week, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said at least two recruits at Parris Island had tested positive for the coronavirus as well as two other Marines stationed there who work in offices separate from the training facility.

In a letter to staff and families at the recruit depot Monday, the commanding general and the sergeant major said recruits won’t ship to Parris Island this week to give the base time “to further expand facilities available to screen arriving recruits and personnel, as well as care for those going through quarantine and isolation.”

“This aggressive posture is necessary to protect all of us,” Brig. Gen. James Glynn and Sgt. Major William Carter added.

Recruits who arrive in the future will be subject to a 14-day “staging period,” during which they will be medically screened, monitored and given classes to prepare them for training, they added.

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The pause at Parris Island is the latest sign of the coronavirus pandemic potentially affecting the military’s readiness.

All troop movements overseas have been halted, and an aircraft carrier is sidelined in Guam as the entire crew is tested for the virus after dozens were reported ill, among other hits.

As of Monday morning, the Defense Department said there were 1,087 positive coronavirus cases connected to the Pentagon, including 569 active-duty troops.