A diagnosis of the COVID-19 coronavirus may keep prospective recruits out of the U.S. military, according to a memo from U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command making the rounds on Twitter.
U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command issued the missive to recruit processing stations saying a history of COVID-19, confirmed by a laboratory test or a clinician diagnosis, is permanently disqualifying.
And "during the pre-screen process, a reported history of confirmed COVID-19 will be annotated 'Considered disqualifying,' " the memo adds.
Pentagon spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell confirmed the memo's authenticity, but said it has been updated to clarify the guidance. She declined to disclose the update.
But a Department of Defense official with knowledge of the change said hospitalization for COVID-19 will be considered medically disqualifying. Any potential recruit with such a history, however, could apply for a waiver.
The contents of the memo were first reported by Military Times.
The guidance also spells out the process at MEPS for handling new applicants during and after the pandemic. Currently, all entrants to MEPS receive a temperature check and answer a questionnaire about symptoms and any contact with anyone confirmed with the coronavirus.
Applicants who fail screening will be asked to return to MEPS after a minimum of 14 days if they remain symptom-free. If they develop symptoms and are diagnosed, they must wait at least 28 days after diagnoses to report to MEPS.
There, they may be designated as medically disqualified, depending on the severity of their cases.
While very few viral infections are medically disqualifying for military service, active human immunodeficiency virus cases and an eye condition caused by the herpes simplex virus are disqualifying. Respiratory illnesses such as asthma, a history of pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease also preclude people from serving in the U.S. military.