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DoD Issues Guidelines That Might Not Disqualify New Recruits Over COVID-19 Exposure

it is not known if the interim Pentagon policy would eventually extend to current military member who have been ill from the coronavirus while on duty.

A new proposed defense policy means a past coronavirus exposure would be treated the same as other medical conditions, such as hearing loss, “that are considered ‘permanently disqualifying,’ subject to a medical waiver.”

A defense official, who asked to not be identified has confirmed the authenticity of the memo, first reported by Military Times, and said it is interim guidance. The new policy would not necessarily disqualify a potential recruit. It would force an additional review, mandating that the recruit would need to get a waiver to move forward for enlistment.

This policy comes as military recruiters face challenges as COVID-19 has closed the high schools, malls and job fairs where prospects typically meet.

In an interview with McClatchy, most of the military services have seen shortfalls in recruiting since the COVID-19 outbreak. Every service told McClatchy News Service, they do not anticipate being at full strength by the end of the year .

More than 1.2 million Americans have tested positive for the virus and 72,617 have died as of May 6, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Officials who have researched the military personnel policy for more than two decades, said it was too early to determine the impact of the new policy, because there is still much that is unknown about the accuracy of antibody testing and immunity with COVID-19. Officials also don’t have good estimates on the younger population.

“Testing is essentially limited to people with symptoms or high risk. So it is difficult to get a clear picture of the impact of this decision.”

At this time, it is not known if the interim Pentagon policy would eventually extend to current military member who have been ill from the coronavirus while on duty. More than 5,000 military members have been infected with COVID-19 Nearly 1,900 have recovered.

About the Author

Ralph C. Jensen is editor-in-chief of Security Today magazine.

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