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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