By Mike McCombs
Officials at Marine Corp Recruit Depot Parris Island have temporarily stopped receiving new recruits after admitting to more than 20 positive cases of COVID-19 novel coronavirus on base on Monday, March 30.
Previously, MCRD Parris Island officials had admitted to just two confirmed cases despite zip code data from the South Carolina South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) that indicated more positive cases on Parris Island.
An exact number of positive cases on Parris Island, now and going forward, won’t be made public, according to Capt. Bryan McDonnell, Director for Public Affairs for Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island and the Eastern Recruiting Region.
“We are no longer providing specific numbers per Department of Defense OpSec guidance,” McDonnell said in a text message to The Island News. “I can confirm that we have had an increase in positive cases that were identified over the weekend thanks to our medical posture and focused testing.”
McDonnell also did not confirm a specific number of suspected coronavirus patients who might be quarantined or awaiting test results.
This change in policy by the Defense Department came just four days after Secretary of the Navy Kenneth Braithwaite and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David H. Berger, in a press briefing televised live on Fox News, said communities could “expect transparency of all positive COVID-19 cases on installations within their communities.”
A letter signed by Commanding General James F. Glynn and Sergeant Major William C. Carter was posted on MCRD Parris Island’s Facebook page on Monday, reassuring Marines and staff that officials were taking the coronavirus crisis seriously and steps above and beyond what the CDC requires and recommends were being taken.
The letter outlines new policy that requires a 14-day staging period during which new recruits will be medically screened and monitored. However, it makes clear that despite changes in the “manner which (the Marine Corps) recruits and trains,” that training will resume at MCRD Parris Island.
Other media outlets are reporting the target date for training to resume as April 13.
Currently, Parris Island is closed to the public. Graduation ceremonies are canceled and leave for new graduates is no longer standard. Travel has been stopped for all U.S. military members by the Pentagon for a 60-day period.
However, the situation on Parris Island is still quite fluid.
Although MCCS – Marine Corps Community Services, the largest civilian contractor on base – has moved to essential personnel only on MCRD Parris Island, as well as MCAS Beaufort, an unknown number of the 360 civilians employed on base are still going to work on Parris Island every day.