Despite adjustments made at Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) San Diego weeks ago to protect against the new coronavirus, a number of recruits have tested positive at the base, the U.S. Marine Corps confirmed.
A company of approximately 250 recruits arrived to MCRD San Diego on March 30 to begin their normal training with five days of administrative work which then transitioned to full-time training according to Captain Martin Harris, Director of Communication Strategy and Operations for MCRD San Diego.
The first recruit to test positive for COVID-19 was identified on either April 6 or 7, which led to the immediate testing and quarantine of all other company members.
The Marines, assigned to Bravo Company, were quarantined in two-man rooms on base for 14 days. This company of recruits was already under "restricted movement" as part of MCRD's plan for all recruits, which went into effect March 23.
Eleven recruits within Bravo Company had tested positive for COVID-19 as of April 11, Harris confirmed to NBC 7, adding that this was inevitable and that MCRD began planning in February for what to do with new recruits who arrived for boot camp. No new positive cases have been identified at MCRD since.
Approximately 275 additional recruits with Echo Company who arrived on April 13 were immediately placed in quarantine at a local hotel, two to a room, where they began processing and will remain for 14 days to be monitored. Prior to their arrival in San Diego, they were told to shelter in place for 14 days.
At the start of April, the Marine Corps told NBC 7 recruits were being screened before they arrived in San Diego, and again at the Marine base where they go through additional medical testing.
Any recruit displaying symptoms will be tested for the coronavirus.
“Once they arrive here if they develop any symptoms they are properly screened, tested, and quarantined if needed," Capt. Harris told NBC 7 in early April.
At the time, none had tested positive for coronavirus, though some displayed symptoms and were being isolated.
Separating recruits is a challenge due to the nature of the training at MCRD, so the number of trainees has been decreased in order to practice social distancing. Beds where the new recruits sleep now have been distanced six feet apart.