Army temporarily halts sending new recruits to basic training during coronavirus outbreak

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The Army is holding off sending recruits to basic training for two weeks beginning Monday in response to the fast-spreading coronavirus, leaders announced.

Those already in basic combat training at one of the Army's four BCT locations -- Fort Benning, Ga.; Fort Sill, Okla.; Fort Jackson, S.C., and Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. --  and advanced individual training will continue to be screened and monitored, the Army said.

They will move on to their next assignments after graduation.

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"One of TRADOC's main focuses is to develop leaders by accessing, training and educating Soldiers," said Gen. Paul E. Funk, II, commander of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.

"We have to do so responsibly, and we've already begun protecting those currently in our ranks with social-distanced-enabled training, reduced movement of our Soldiers and trainees, and increased screening of those moving across our commands," he added. "The decision to pause the shipment of trainees to BCT for two weeks will allow leaders to focus on setting conditions so movement can be conducted in a safer manner in the future."

The Army began screening recruits last month as the virus intensified across the globe. Recruits were asked a series of questions to gauge whether they could be infected.

The branch shut down its recruiting stations weeks ago to prevent the spread of the virus and implemented a virtual recruiting program through social media and other online activity. Military recruitment as a whole is struggling as the pandemic continues to impact every facet of society.

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The Marine Corps announced in late March it will not accept recruits at Parris Island for two weeks after more than 20 people there contracted the illness. At least 155 sailors on the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for COVID-19, the Navy said.