To the Editor:
While I can appreciate the sincerity of Public Affairs Officer Chief Warrant Officer Timothy Tamargo in stating that “Recruits in transit to Cape May undergo an advanced screening for symptoms at a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) prior to arrival at Cape May,” (April 1 “Training Center Prepares for COVID-19”) I would like to offer some perspective on this current situation.
A friend of mine recently joined the Coast Guard. After being processed at MEPS, he was dropped at our international airport and told to wait nine hours for his flight to the contiguous United States.
Because the USO was closed due to COVID-19 they waited in the general check-in area as hundreds of travelers passed by. As he made his way across the country in a series of three separate flights, he finally made it to New York where upwards of 77 other recruits were placed on a bus and taken into Cape May.
I was amazed that, while airlines were closing down flights, the military insisted on flying him all over the country.
Tamargo stated that a second screening for symptoms occurs as soon as recruits get off the bus and those with symptoms are then isolated. Given there is an incubation period for COVID-19 and some may even appear asymptomatic, it is very likely that many recruits making these long journeys have had some form of COVID-19 contact.
I believe that the residents of Cape May should be wary and voice concerns of future recruits coming to their county because, while the recruits themselves may not have a direct impact on residents, those running the training center are also members of their community.
Any contact, especially from those traveling from outside of the state and through outbreak hot spots throughout the country is a potential risk not only to those in the military but to the community of Cape May.
This article states that there is limited testing capacity at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May. It also states that another class may begin April 7. Are the methods of transporting and testing new recruits foolproof enough to bring in 80 more recruits from all over the country/world?