Arizona Marine Corps Base Confirms At Least 1 COVID-19 Case, Tests 11 Other Marines

By Scott Bourque
Published: Friday, March 20, 2020 - 5:18pm
Updated: Friday, March 20, 2020 - 5:37pm

Handwashing station at MCAS Yuma
Lance Cpl. John Hall/MCAS Yuma
U.S. Marines with Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma, wash their hands at a cleaning station aboard MCAS Yuma, March 20, 2020. Sanitation stations have been set up all around MCAS Yuma in response to COVID-19 in order to promote and maintain cleaniness

The commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma, Col. David Suggs, confirmed Friday that at least one Marine tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The base was awaiting test results for at least 11 Marines, and an additional 150 had been restricted to the base. 

This represents the first confirmed positive case in Yuma County. As of Friday afternoon, health officials confirmed more than 60 cases statewide. At least 49 active duty service members have tested positive for the virus as of this week, according to the Military Times. 

"The individual is a local Marine," Suggs said at a press conference Friday. “The individual presented on the 13th, he was immediately put into a restricted movement status.  His test went out on the, around the 16th I believe and his test came back yesterday."

A Corporal assigned to an aviation squadron on the base, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media, said the base is taking some steps to stop the spread of the virus amongst base personnel, but instructions are changing often. 

“They’ve just told us to keep an ear out for anything,” the corporal said. “They haven’t said what more can happen.”

He said Marines were being told to remain in their barracks rooms, unless leaving for food or for mission-essential work. At MCAS Yuma, Marines usually live in two-person rooms that share a bathroom with another two-person room. 

The base’s Marine Corps Exchange, a store similar to a Target, has been closed. The base dining facilities are restricting entrance to no more than ten Marines at a time and requiring them to take their food to go. 

The base barber shop is also closed, the corporal said. He said he hadn’t received guidance on whether or not leadership would be enforcing the Marine Corps haircut policy, which essentially requires each Marine to receive a weekly haircut. 

“We respect it, but we’re not trying to get [COVID-19], we’re not trying to spread it, and we’re not too worried about catching it,” he said.

The base Public Affairs Office did not respond to multiple phone calls.

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