As the USA military navigates the coronavirus pandemic, recruits who test positive for COVID-19 won't be allowed to enlist - regardless of whether they've recovered or not.
And "during the pre-screen process, a reported history of confirmed COVID-19 will be annotated 'Considered disqualifying, ' " the memo adds.
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Recruits can apply for waivers for all permanently disqualifying conditions.
If an applicant fails MEPS screening for COVID-19, but without a laboratory or clinician diagnosis, they can return to continue processing after 14 days if they do not exhibit symptoms, according to the directive, which was first reported by the Military Times. The McClatchy news service later reported that a USA defense official, who it did not name, also confirmed the memo, describing it as "interim guidance".
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The contents of the memo, which has been circulating on the internet, were confirmed to Newsweek by the Pentagon, which described them as "interim guidance". Currently, all entrants to MEPS receive a temperature check and answer a questionnaire about symptoms and any contact with anyone confirmed with the coronavirus.
Anyone diagnosed with the virus, will be forced to wait 28 days after the diagnosis date before they can report back to MEPS. There has been speculation that coronavirus patients can suffer long-lasting lung damage, even after making a full recovery.
Maxwell declined to explain why a coronavirus diagnosis would be permanently disqualifying, compared to other viral, non-chronic illnesses that do not preclude military service.
The Navy was found to be the hardest hit of the Defense Department's military services, with 431 of the 1,435 active coronavirus cases reported among service members.
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