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COVID-19 Isolates But Doesn’t Sideline First West Coast Class Of Female Marine Recruits

Female Marine recruits on the Slide for Life obstacle course at Marine Recrui...

Photo by Alexander Nguyen

Above: Female Marine recruits on the Slide for Life obstacle course at Marine Recruit Depot, San Diego, March 10, 2021.

The first class of female Marine recruits on the West Coast is in isolation after one recruit tested positive for COVID-19.

They will be isolated for two weeks, said their commander, Capt. Ashley Sands.

“It doesn’t really have any major effect on our training,” she said. ”They’re just required to stay in the squad bay when they’re not conducting a physical training event.”

This first class of 60 women at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego is essentially part of a test of how the Marines will integrate men and women at boot camp. The Marines are the last service to segregate women during their initial training. For now, the platoon will have to limit their training with other units.

"It’s not disappointing,” Sands said. “We’re used to things like this happening with recruits, where they will occasionally test positive for COVID. We’re required to adjust fire and conduct all the training necessary for them.”

VIDEO: COVID-19 Isolates But Doesn't Sideline First West Coast Class Of Female Marine Recruits

Reported by Steve Walsh

In the year since the pandemic began, the Marines added two weeks of isolation before the start of boot camp, in an attempt to create a COVID-19-free bubble around recruits. Still, this is not the first case of COVID-19 among West Coast recruits. At the moment, none of them are receiving a vaccine.

The recruits of Lima Company on Tuesday navigated the confidence course — a series of obstacles designed to test both strength and teamwork — as well as pool exercises.

Female Marines and veterans around the country are watching this first test of female recruit training in San Diego. Lea Booth, a Marine veteran, who is now a pastor at La Jolla United Methodist, went to the gender-segregated boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina in 2004, before serving two tours in Iraq as a crew chief on a helicopter, getting out in 2009.

“I’m going to have to rely on these guys out in the field. Why would you separate us during training?” she said. “So, I hope they integrate sooner rather than later, honestly.”

Lima Company is in week four of the 13-week boot camp. Soon, their training moves north to Camp Pendleton, as they move closer to becoming U.S. Marines.

Listen to this story by Steve Walsh.

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Steve Walsh
Military Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover military and veterans issues for KPBS and American Homefront, a partnership of public radio stations and NPR. I cover issues ranging from delpoying troops along the California border to efforts to lower suicide rates among veterans.

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