Military Bans COVID Survivors From Enlisting

SILVER SPRING, MD - MARCH 19: Members of the Maryland Army National Guard work to set up a triage tent in the parking lot outside of the emergency room at Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center on March 19, 2... SILVER SPRING, MD - MARCH 19: Members of the Maryland Army National Guard work to set up a triage tent in the parking lot outside of the emergency room at Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center on March 19, 2020 in Silver Spring, Maryland. Hospitals across the country are preparing for an influx of additional patients due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) MORE LESS

The Pentagon has banned survivors of COVID-19 from enlisting in the military, according to a government memo released this week.

A Pentagon spokeswoman confirmed the document is authentic, describing the ban to TPM as “interim.”

A permanent policy is currently being developed, the spokeswoman told TPM.

As first reported in the Military Times, the memo – from the Pentagon’s Military Entrance Processing Command (MEPCOM) – had begun circulating on social media this week.

The memo directs military staffers on how to approach COVID while processing new recruits for potential enlistment in the country’s armed forces.

A Pentagon spokeswoman told TPM that, per the regulations, “anybody that has been hospitalized with COVID-19 will be medically disqualified and would need a service waiver to join the military.”

Other prior conditions that the Pentagon considers disqualifying without a waiver include recurrent pneumonia, inflammation of the heart, and kidney injuries requiring dialysis.

The memo itself states that the military will treat COVID-19 as a “3P” condition. Under the military’s medical profiling system, that indicates a disqualifying defect in the applicant’s physical capacity or stamina.

“During the medical history interview or examination, a history of COVID-19, confirmed by either a laboratory test or clinician diagnosis, is permanently disqualifying,” the memorandum reads.

The Pentagon declined to say why it believes COVID-19 to be permanently disqualifying, or when it would issue permanent guidance on the issue.

As doctors continue to learn more about the illness, serious questions linger over the longer-term effects of a COVID infection. Some survivors have reported reduced lung capacity, while others who found themselves in grave condition emerge from the infection with kidney failure.

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