BMT Trainee Tests Positive for COVID-19

A trainee at the Air Force’s Basic Military Training has tested positive for the new coronavirus, prompting the trainee and 40 others to be placed in isolation.

The trainee, the first COVID-19 case in basic training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, first reported on March 18, the service said in a statement. The trainee was isolated once they started showing symptoms on an undisclosed date, prompting the service to conduct “contract tracing” to determine who they had been in close contact with.

“While a positive COVID-19 discovery is not desirable, the good news is we planned for this and our preparations worked. The trainees were restricted during the incubation period and this allowed for limited exposure,” Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of Air Education and Training Command, said in a release. “Practices put into place allow for the identification of COVID-19, while limiting the pool of individuals who can be infected. We take preparing for worst case scenarios seriously and that planning has paid off.”

The trainee is being treated and will stay in isolation until recovered. The other 40 will stay in quarantine for an undisclosed period of time at separate training facilities and will not have exposure to other recruits.

The positive trainee was one of 600 who arrived March 18. They were all placed under restriction of movement for 14 days to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.

The same day the BMT positive was announced, the service said a member of the 80th Flying Training Wing at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, has also tested positive for the virus. The base hosts USAF and NATO pilot training. There are three positive cases of COVID-19—an Airman, a spouse of a sister service member, and a retiree—at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.

AETC considers Basic Military Training and technical school training mission essential, saying both will continue despite the new coronavirus outbreak.

According to a Q&A on the decision posted March 24, training must continue to meet Air Force requirements around the world.

“These are unprecedented times, with the situation evolving daily,” according to the Q&A. “Leaders at every level are making continuous assessments in order to protect the force’s health and safety.”