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Soldiers returning from Afghanistan quarantined amid COVID-19 outbreak

United States Iran
Posted at 9:12 PM, Mar 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-14 21:14:44-04

FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- U.S. soldiers returning from Afghanistan have been quarantined amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

On Saturday, 300 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division returned to Fort Bragg in North Carolina after a nine-month deployment. This is one of the first large groups of military personnel to return home since the start of the pandemic.

The Army says the 14-day quarantine is out of an abundance of caution. As of Saturday, no one in the unit or on Fort Bragg has tested positive for the virus.

The Defense Department says that as of Saturday, 10 service members have tested positive for the virus.

At Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California, a second Marine has tested positive for COVID-19 and is being isolated at the base while receiving medical care. The air station says it is trying to determine who may have had contact with the Marine and to notify them of the situation.

At Naval Base San Diego, a sailor has tested “presumptive positive," the first positive case for a sailor in California. The base says the sailor is quarantined at home.

New Pentagon restrictions

Pentagon officials have laid out new restrictions for access to the building, saying people who have been overseas should stay away for two weeks and others should expect more screening questions from officers posted at the entrances.

Senior defense officials said in a conference call with reporters that personnel who must access classified information as part of their job will still go to work in the building. But beginning Monday, there will be minimal staffing at the Pentagon and workers who can telework will be encouraged, although not required, to do so.

They said people coming into the building will not have their temperature taken at this point.

As of Saturday, 21 Defense Department personnel worldwide had tested positive for the virus, including 10 service members. Two of the 21 are hospitalized. Also, two of the 21 are in the Washington, D.C., region.

The department on Friday laid out widespread new restrictions on travel and routine job changes by military members, who often move to new units and positions in the spring and summer.