An Army spokesman has denied that a viral video showing a soldier “quarantining” behind a strip of tape, on the ground, is the current policy for soldiers who contract the novel coronavirus while in the field.
So there's that.
“Here's what we've got our boys doing that are in quarantine in the field,” says the soldier filming the video. “If you've got any symptoms, they don't send you home or to the hospital — they quarantine you behind some tape, on a cot, with a mask and a little f—ing sign for two damn weeks. But y'all motherf—ers want to join the military.”
Lt. Col. Chris Brautigam, a spokesman for the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, told Task & Purpose that the video is inaccurate.
“The video does not accurately represent our unit COVID-19 mitigation policy or procedures and the soldier seen lying down in the video was not COVID-19 positive or being seen for COVID-19 related symptoms,” Brautigam told Task & Purpose. “This does not accurately represent the situation or the care and concern this unit has for the health, welfare, and wellbeing of our troopers and their families.”
One caveat: Draft policy guidance from the 1st Cavalry Division that circulated on social media in June appears to tell soldiers to do exactly what is being shown in the video.
The memo, first posted by U.S. Army WTF! Moments, is for the division's 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team. It says that soldiers “identified as COVID positive or presumed positive” will stay in the field unless it is determined by “medical authorities” that they need to be hospitalized.
“If medical authorities determine that the trooper only needs to be isolated or quarantined, the trooper will be quarantined along with that trooper's crew and continue to train,” the memo says.
It goes on to direct that units should “set up a designated area in each training area for quarantined troopers. This area will be marked for identification by engineer tape. No trooper will sleep indoors…”
Brautigam told Task & Purpose that the memo “is not current unit policy or procedure.”
If a soldier starts showing COVID-19 symptoms when they're already in the field, Brautigam said, they'll be further assessed by a “medical provider in the field.” If it's determined that they need to be tested, the soldier will go to a medical facility.
If a soldier tests positive for the virus, they will be isolated at home or in the barracks — not in the field, Brautigam said. The unit will also “conduct contact tracing” after a positive test, and “implement quarantine procedures and testing, as required following a medical assessment from qualified medical professionals.”
If a soldier is waiting to go to a medical facility for testing, however, they “will be separated from other soldiers by appropriate and available means [ensuring] that other soldiers do not come into contact with those who have exhibited symptoms.”