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Military Recruits Who Have Had COVID-19 Will Be Disqualified Even If Recovered

COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that has turned the world on its head in 2020, remains mystifying in many ways, with no shortage of known unknowns and unknown unknowns. One thing that is known for sure is that there's still too much unknown about the virus and its long-term effects on people for the U.S. military.

According to a memo making the rounds on social media and since confirmed by the Pentagon according to the Military Times, a diagnosis of COVID-19 is "considered disqualifying" among prospective recruits.

According to the memo, it doesn't matter if those applying have fully recovered from their bout with COVID-19.

Even if they've shown no symptoms and tested negative twice, a positive diagnosis is still an automatic rejection.

"During the medical history interview or examination, a history of COVID-19, confirmed by either a laboratory test or a clinician diagnosis, is permanently disqualifying," the memo from the Military Entrance Processing Command reads.

Although the Pentagon confirmed the authenticity of the memo to the Military Times, they did not elaborate on the reasoning behind the order.

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However, a spokesperson told CNN that it had to do with a lack of understanding of the long-term effects of the virus.

It's as yet unknown whether a bout with the virus will impart long-term immunity to further infections or not, whether symptoms can recur after recovery or if flare-ups can happen, or if the virus can cause long-lasting or permanent respiratory damage, among other things.

Even before the ban takes effect, the military is currently screening all recruits for the virus.

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Applicants who fail the screening are allowed to return after 14 days, according to the memo, provided they're symptom-free.

The memo also states that those who test positive for COVID-19 can re-apply after 28 days, even though it's immediately disqualifying. Those applicants can appeal the decision, but the officials who review appeals currently lack any justification for allowing an exception.

The military is currently dealing with several clusters of illness.

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Fort Jackson in South Carolina and the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego have both seen dozens of cases of COVID-19, and the USS Theodore Roosevelt is still seeing new cases emerge weeks after a high profile outbreak led to the removal of Captain Brett Crozier.

However, the military is studying how the virus can spread even without apparent symptoms by testing large random groups.

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"One of the challenges that we know is asymptomatic transmission of the disease," said Defense Secretary Mark Esper, according to CNN. "It's something we have known for quite a while but what we didn't really appreciate until the TR was the fact we are experiencing very high rates in the military."

h/t: Military Times, CNN