Nearly four dozen recruits within Bravo company aboard the recruit depot in San Diego, California, have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a Marine official.
Training at the depot has not been halted and there is no current pause in receiving incoming new recruits, the official said.
Bravo company has temporarily halted training and new recently administered COVID-19 tests across the entire company could mean the number of infected recruits could rise.
But Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego says the discovery of the new positive COVID-19 cases is a result of additional testing, which is also helping to identify asymptomatic recruits.
“This increase in testing is possible because of the overwhelming Naval Medical support to recruit training and an increased testing capability, which we have implemented to ensure recruits are healthy before they being their training,” Capt. Martin Harris, a spokesman for the recruit depot told Marine Corps Times in an emailed statement.
Harris told Marine Corps Times in an emailed statement that the depot will begin testing all newly arriving recruits in the future whether they present symptoms or not.
“All personnel that have tested positive are in isolation on MCRD San Diego, and none have required hospitalization,” Harris said.
“While these positive cases are currently isolated to one company and in quarantine, the increase of asymptomatic positive tests has prompted the testing of all personnel in quarantine and all recruits that arrive on the depot in the future, whether or not they present symptoms,” he explained.
Bravo company picked up training near the end of March. Photos of the company entering receiving posted to the Defense Department’s imagery site known as DVIDS provided a glimpse of life for incoming recruits amidst the pandemic including social distancing and new safety measures implemented across the depot.
The company’s training was temporarily halted in April following a positive COVID-19 test case and follow-on trace results identifying potential recruits who could be infected with the virus.
The company has been in a 14-day quarantine status on the cusp of returning to training until a surplus in testing allowed the depot to test one of the platoons within Bravo company. The entire company has since been tested.
Test results have shown new recruits within the unit who were asymptomatic have the virus.
“In a proactive step to ensure recruits begin training health, we have begun to test recruits who have been in a 14-day quarantine before they restart training,” Harris said.
The additional testing is now allowing the depot to find recruits who are asymptomatic.
Following Bravo company’s arrival at the depot, the San Diego boot camp has administered new safety measures to include a 14-day staging prior to Marines stepping on the iconic yellow footprints and kicking of training.
“As recruits arrive to the depot in the future, they will enter a staging period of 14 days during which they will be medically screened, monitored and provided classes to prepare and orient them to begin recruit training,” the San Diego depot posted to Facebook.
“All the recruits that have entered the 14-day staging period are healthy and are being screened by medical personnel several times each day and remain in contact with their families to keep them informed.” Harris said about the staging efforts aboard the San Diego boot camp.
There are other safety measures that have been implemented too.
Master Sgt. Alistair D’Avilar, the Marine Corps recruiting school operations chief, said in a recent video that recruits scheduled to ship to boot camp are being asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
“We are experiencing challenging and unprecedented times,” Gen. David Berger, commandant of the Marine Corps, said in the video.
“There are things we simply must continue to do,” Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Troy Black said in the video.
The recruit depots have implemented other health precautions to include face masks and social distancing when feasible.
Public graduation events at boot camp have been canceled.
“We continue to take deliberate and proactive measures as we continue to adapt and react to the changing situation," Harris said. But additional capacity to test for COVID-19 is aiding the depots in carrying on its mission to train recruits.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.