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Recruit company commanders and mission-essential personnel get issued N-95 particulate respirators, goggles, gloves, and medical gowns at U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, N.J., Dec. 22, 2020. Recruit training and safety personnel must undergo a fit test to ensure a proper seal of their N-95 respirators before wearing them into any quarantine or isolation spaces to ensure the safety and well-being of both the staff members and the recruits. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Shannon Kearney)

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CAPE MAY – Recruit basic training at U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May (TRACEN) resumed Jan. 2, after Covid hit the base hard several weeks ago, stopping boot camp and suspending or modifying activities. 

According to Chief Warrant Officer Timothy Tamargo, public affairs officer, TRACEN, more than 200 recruits started training in six new companies. The six groups are smaller in size than the original three units, as about 100 more recruits remain in isolation or quarantine and await medical clearance, as of Jan. 6. Most had not started basic training before it was paused. 

“This was a significant milestone, as we had paused training for the past few weeks,” reads a statement by Capt. Kathy Felger, commanding officer, TRACEN, which was posted on TRACEN's Facebook page (http://bit.ly/3pUP2fw). “We continue to work through the isolation and quarantine process and hope to have the remaining recruits cleared to commence training or prepare to graduate by next week.” 

Recruits who remain from Company November-199, which was one week from graduation when the virus halted operations, are finalizing administrative tasks and travel plans, with a goal of staggering departures through the week of Jan. 11 as they clear isolation or quarantine protocols, according to Tamargo.   

To ensure the safety of TRACEN’s workforce and in the fleet, Tamargo said their medical clearance process requires all recruits to test negative for Covid 24 hours before departing Cape May. If someone tests positive before departure, they, and any other recruits in close contact, will remain at TRACEN until medical clearance is assured.   

“Our medical staff is following Coast Guard and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocols for isolation, quarantine and testing timelines,” Tamargo pointed out.  

“We are moving forward deliberately, safely, and in an encouraging direction,” stated Felger. “There are many challenges we are adapting to with both our personnel and facilities in moving forward in the current Covid environment. The plans we are developing are essential to both graduate the recruits we currently have, as well as receive new recruits sometime in the future.” 

Recruits and applicants who had their shipping date canceled will work with their recruiter to receive a new date, Tamargo said.  

“We are working through those plans now,” he explained. “Training Center Cape May staff does not make the reservations, but we expect to start receiving new recruits in a few weeks.” 

Felger noted there continue to be many restrictions remaining on base services and access.   

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Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Baez, a company commander for recruit company November-199, addresses recruits after hoisting the November flag on the regimental flagpole at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, N.J., Dec. 30, 2020. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Shannon Kearney)

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