New Marine recruits won’t start boot camp at Parris Island for ‘at least a couple weeks’ amid COVID-19 pandemic, commandant says

'We’ll restart as soon as we’re comfortable and the commanding general down there is comfortable with doing so'
Jeff Schogol Avatar

It will be “at least a couple weeks” before new Marine recruits start boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger said on Wednesday.

The Marine Corps announced on March 30 that no new recruits would arrive at Parris Island this week after an unspecified number tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Per Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s instruction, Corps officials are not saying how many recruits have the disease, but Task & Purpose has learned that more than 20 recruits at Parris Island have become sickened by COVID-19.

While recruit training at Parris Island is continuing, Berger told reporters on Wednesday that shipping to the recruit depot would be suspended for longer than one week due to the outbreak there.

“It did cause us to pause recruit training at Parris Island for at least a couple weeks and we’ll see where we are after that,” Berger said during a conference call. “In the meantime, we’ll continue to do recruit training on the West Coast at San Diego. So, we’ll just take it day by day and make sure that Marines are taken care of. We’ll restart as soon as we’re comfortable and the commanding general down there is comfortable with doing so.” reporter Gina Harkins first revealed on Wednesday that two recruits who passed screenings for coronavirus before arriving at Parris Island later tested positive for the disease, when then spread rapidly to others. 

The recruits did not show any COVID-19 symptoms when they started boot camp.

Berger acknowledged the Marine Corps knew there would be a risk with continuing to send recruits to boot camp amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Anywhere you’re going to gather people together for any reason nowadays, there’s a risk,” Berger said. “As with everywhere else, you deal with it as you discover it and treat it.”

None of the sickened recruits are in a life-threatening situation, he said.

When new recruits do arrive at Parris Island again, they will spend 14 days being monitored in a staging area before they begin their training, the recruit depot’s commander Brig. Gen. James F. Glynn wrote in a March 30 message to the installation.