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No new recruits at Parris Island as coronavirus cases on base rise, Marines say

A road sign in Parris Island, SC, May 13, 2011. (DOD photo by D. Myles Cullen)

The Marine Corps will pause sending new recruits to boot camp and add more safeguards against the spread of coronavirus.

In a letter released Monday, leadership at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island told base families that recruits would not arrive as planned this week. The base will use the opportunity to expand screening capabilities for recruits and Marines and to care for those in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19, the letter said.

“The manner in which we recruit and train has been examined, with many modifications already made,” the letter from Brig. Gen. James Glynn, the base commander, and Sgt. Maj. William Carter reads in part. “And they will continue to be made as the situation requires.”

More than 20 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed on the base, including drill instructors and recruits, Military.com reported Monday.

Base spokesman Capt. Bryan McDonnell said Monday he could not confirm a specific number of cases. Parris Island had previously publicly disclosed only two cases.

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“I can confirm that we have had an increase in positive cases that were identified over the weekend thanks to our medical posture and focused testing,” McDonnell told The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet on Monday.

Those who need treatment are being seen at a clinic on Parris Island or Naval Hospital Beaufort, he said.

Parris Island trains all male recruits in the eastern United States and all of the country’s female recruits.

The target to resume recruit training is April 13, McDonnell said. When recruits resume arriving, they will first be subject to a 14-day period of medical screening, monitoring and orientation classes before training begins, Parris Island brass said in the letter.

Parris Island reported two positive cases of COVID-19 at the Depot earlier in March. A statement said the Marines had worked in areas away from recruits and drill instructors, and that they were isolated at their homes.

A Marine stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort also tested positive for coronavirus after returning from leave in California and before returning to the Beaufort base, officials there said.

Parris Island graduation ceremonies have been closed to the public, standard 10-day leave for new recruits has been suspended, and other travel restrictions are in place to prevent spreading the virus.

The Pentagon last week announced travel would stop for all U.S. troops for 60 days. That directive canceled a planned MCAS Beaufort training exercise involving cross-country travel, 1st Lt. Kevin Buss said.

“We continue to remain operational here at MCAS Beaufort, with normal flight operations,” Buss said in an email Friday.

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© 2020 The Island Packet