Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 among recruits in a US Army training environment: a brief report

Shilpa Hakre*, Irina Maljkovic-Berry, Jun Hang, Matthew A. Conte, Adam R. Pollio, Christian K. Fung, Jaykumar Gandhi, Sheila A. Peel, Grace M. Lidl, Mark E. Huhtanen, Tara L. Hall, Kayvon Modjarrad, Heather L. Friberg, Robert J. O’Connell, Paul T. Scott

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background In 2020, preventive measures were implemented to mitigate the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) among 600–700 recruits arriving weekly at a basic combat training (BCT) facility in the southern United States. Trainees were sorted into companies and platoons (cocoons) at arrival, tested, quarantined for 14 days with daily temperature and respiratory-symptom monitoring and retested before release into larger groups for training where symptomatic testing was conducted. Nonpharmaceutical measures, such as masking, and social distancing, were maintained throughout quarantine and BCT. We assessed for SARS-CoV-2 transmission in the quarantine milieu. Methods Nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs were collected at arrival and at the end of quarantine and blood specimens at both timepoints and at the end of BCT. Epidemiological characteristics were analyzed for transmission clusters identified from whole-genome sequencing of NP samples. Results Among 1403 trainees enrolled from 25 August to 7 October 2020, epidemiological analysis identified three transmission clusters (n = 20 SARS-CoV-2 genomes) during quarantine, which spanned five different cocoons. However, SARS-CoV-2 incidence decreased from 2.7% during quarantine to 1.5% at the end of BCT; prevalence at arrival was 3.3%. Conclusions These findings suggest layered SARS-CoV-2 mitigation measures implemented during quarantine minimized the risk of further transmission in BCT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)748-752
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Public Health (United Kingdom)
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • nonpharmaceutical interventions
  • public health


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