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New Marine recruits replace those who tested positive for coronavirus in San Diego

Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego welcomed a new company of recruits Monday evening as the Corps tries to maintain its training pipeline, a week after several recruits in San Diego tested positive for the coronavirus.

The positive cases have not been reported previously but were acknowledged by Brig. Gen. Ryan Heritage during an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune on Monday. Recruits who tested positive are in isolation while the rest of the company — Bravo Company — is quarantined on the base, said Capt. Martin Harris, a depot spokesman.

The new company arriving at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego — Echo Company — is undergoing a new process in San Diego that also will be used at the Marine Corps’ East Coast boot camp at Parris Island, S.C.

Recruits who arrived in San Diego on Monday will stay at an undisclosed hotel off-base where, confined to rooms of two each, they will remain for 14 days before returning to the depot to begin training.

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Seven sailors on the San Diego-based hospital ship, now pier-side in Los Angeles, have tested positive for COVID-19, with more moved off the ship

The purpose of the quarantine, Heritage said, is to keep recruits separate from those further along in training.

The depot has established a command post at the hotel and recruits will have 24-hour security. They’ll also be screened several times a day for signs of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Heritage said the work of producing new Marines is an important part of maintaining the military’s readiness to respond if needed.

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Even as the Pentagon has sent hospital ships to Los Angeles and New York, it has benched an aircraft carrier, stopped troop travel and halted most training exercises. The bigger question is: What happens to national security during a pandemic?

“The lifeblood of the Marine Corps comes through here, so we gotta continue to pump that through,” he said.

“But we’re doing so with force preservation, so safety and health of the recruits and all the permanent personnel — Marines and civilians — is really up front with us.”


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