May 9 (UPI) — Pentagon officials said this week they are still weighing its options when it comes to screening for COVID-19, and said they haven’t officially implemented a policy that would make a history of the virus “permanently disqualifying.”
On Thursday the Pentagon confirmed the authenticity of a memo saying Military Entrance Processing Stations won’t process individuals who have had COVID-19 for military service, even those who have fully recovered.
A U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command memo, circulated on Twitter, said that a reported history of COVID-19 will be “permanently disqualifying” for entry to the armed services, the Military Times and Newsweek reported.
Later that day Army Gen. Mark Milley told NPR the memo was leaked “by accident” and had not been approved by military top brass.
“It hasn’t been rigorously thought out and reviewed by the service secretaries – the chiefs – or the secretary of defense,” Milley said.
The memo outlines guidelines for screening potential service members at the nation’s 65 MEP stations, who will now have their temperature taken and answer questions about potential symptoms and contact with infected parties.
Those who fail screening won’t be tested, but can return in 14 days if they have no symptoms, and 28 days if they receive a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis.
Recruits can apply for waivers for permanently disqualifying conditions — but there does not appear to be any guidance available for a review authority to assess situations involving COVID-19.
There is no apparent precedent for prohibiting survivors of other viral, non-chronic conditions — such as influenza — from entering military service, but its long-term effects on the body are still largely unknown.
The Pentagon does not release information about the number of cases of coronavirus among active-duty members, but data obtained and published by Newsweek at the end of April said the military has 6,500 coronavirus cases at more than 150 bases in 46 states.