COVID-19 Hospitalization Means No Military Service

Pentagon memo allows for accepting recruits who had a mild case
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 7, 2020 5:07 PM CDT
COVID-19 Hospitalization Means No Military Service
The Air Force Academy class of 2020 listens during commencement in Colorado Springs in April.   (Christian Murdock/The Gazette via AP)

Anyone who's survived hospitalization for a case of COVID-19 will not be welcome in the US military. A mild case wouldn't keep a recruit out of service, NPR reports, but a hospital stay would be "permanently disqualifying," according to a Pentagon memo. Recruits can apply for a waiver, as they can for other illnesses and conditions, including asthma and heart disease. But there's no framework yet for granting an exception, per the Military Times; specific guidance would have to be handed down. A Pentagon spokeswoman declined to say why a COVID-19 hospitalization would prohibit military service when stays for other viral illnesses do not.

A Defense Department official listed as reasons the fact that little is known about the long-term effects of the disease, as well as the possibility that a coronavirus patient might need care again, per CNN. The new policy is spelled out in an internal Pentagon memo that's considered interim guidance. It's not yet known whether patients who have recovered from the illness can become infected again, the World Health Organization has said. (On the Theodore Roosevelt, 840 crew members tested positive.)

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