U.S. Navy Bars Families from Graduation Ceremonies Over COVID-19 Risk

File image courtesy USN

Published Mar 9, 2020 5:00 PM by The Maritime Executive

In a measure to reduce the risk posed by coronavirus, the U.S. Navy's Recruitment Training Command (RTC) has barred guests and families from attending graduation ceremonies for enlisted recruits and officer candidates. The change takes effect this Friday. 

"This action is being taken out of an abundance of caution, to both ensure the welfare of sailors and that RTC can continue its essential mission of producing basically trained Sailors. RTC recruits impacted by this change are being authorized to call home to directly inform their loved ones," the command said in a statement on its Facebook page. "There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 among recruits, and RTC has robust screening processes in place for those who arrive each week."

The graduations will continue without guests and will be live-streamed on social media for those who cannot attend. The commander of naval service training command will monitor the situation and will determine when it is safe to resume normal guest attendance policies.

In addition, post-graduation liberty will be canceled, and new graduates will report directly to their follow-on assignments. 

To date, only one sailor located in Italy and one marine located in Virginia have tested positive for COVID-19. About 600 cases have been recorded within the United States so far, according to Johns Hopkins University. The worldwide tally is currently about 113,000 cases and rising. 

The Army, Navy and Air Force have all began screening new recruits for coronavirus, in addition to normal pre-enlistment health tests. The Navy began checking for coronavirus risk factors in January, the service told The Hill.