COVID-19 Transmission got Crushed in Air Force Basic Training

Reviewed by Rebekah Moehring, MD, MPH, FSHEA; Duke University School of Medicine

Looking for an example of successful COVID-19 control in congregate living settings? The June MMWR recounts successful control of COVID-19 among >10,000 US Air Force basic trainees in San Antonio, Texas. Investigators initiated strategies of quarantine, social distancing, early screening of trainees, rapid isolation of persons with suspected cases, and monitored reentry into training for trainees with positive test results after resolution of symptoms. The base had access to testing in early March and initiated 14-day arrival quarantines, which had initially been established to deal with cruise ship passengers. Five cases were identified during arrival quarantine. Spread was limited to 47 per 100,000 despite close living quarters. This report provides hopeful evidence showing basic interventions can control COVID-19 in congregate settings. Space, testing resources, and authority to enforce quarantine and social distancing are key factors to achieve this control, which may be difficult outside of well-resourced and structured settings.


Marcus JE, Frankel DN, Pawlak MT, et al. COVID-19 Monitoring and Response Among U.S. Air Force Basic Military Trainees — Texas, March–April 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:685–688. DOI: 

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