COVID-19 has now affected the Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg. U.S. Army Special Operations Command officials announced that 90 students, who were going through Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape (SERE) training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, have tested positive for COVID-19. According to a spokeswoman, officials became aware of the outbreak after an instructor became sick, after which they began tracing the instructor’s contacts.

“We have 2,400 students training here every day at SWCS and that [90] is the only sick population we have,” Burton told Military.com, which reported that 110 SERE students and instructors were in two-week quarantine. This has undoubtedly affected training and readiness. 

(See our podcast episode, where we sit down with our very dear friend Alex Hollings, former SOFREP senior staff writer and editor of Sandboxx, and discuss the topic.)

Students are isolated for 14 days before attending any special operations school, Burton told the website. If they test positive, they are quarantined for another two weeks.

The infected students were six hours away from completing the six-week SERE course conducted at Camp Mackall, a satellite training area miles from Bragg, Army Times reported. The next class will not start again until July 13, Burton told the newspaper.

Guidelines were implemented at Fort Bragg to stop the spread of coronavirus and a few classes were shifted online. Portions of lessons that would not be taught online were closely monitored. Students taking the survival course were tested before training and received daily welfare checks.

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“The health and wellness of our students and staff is our top priority,” Maj. Gen. Patrick Roberson, commander and commandant of SWCS, said in the release. “We will do everything we can to protect our students and their families.”

It is believed that the New York Times first broke the news. NYT said that the virus was most likely spread by an Army instructor who tested positive but continued to teach the course. Do we believe that the Army or SWC would allow an instructor to continue to teach after being tested positive? I think not. SWC has taken extreme precautions to protect its personnel, whether cadre, student, G.S. civilian, or contractor. 

Thus, it is more likely that SWC immediately isolated everyone, tested all relevant personnel, and had those tested positive on strict lockdown on the already isolated compound where training is happening.

Under Executive Order 147, North Carolina will remain in Phase 2 of 3 of lifting COVID-19 restrictions until Friday, July 17. People also are required, with some exceptions, to wear face coverings while out in public when physical distancing of six feet is not possible.

Some of the training happens in Moore County, NC, where citizens are ordered to stay at home except for essential travel and activities. Both local and state law enforcement have been tasked with enforcing this order. 

While the news regarding COVID-19 constantly being broadcasted has had an impact, a majority of U.S. citizens say they have to take breaks from it and that the situation makes them feel worse emotionally. Half say they find it challenging to sift through what is real and what is not. We, at SOFREP, encourage all to pay close attention to both state and local news outlets regarding COVID-19.

Coping with the stress of COVID-19 is almost as important as shielding yourself and your loved ones from the virus. 

When dealing with the stress and anxiety caused by the outbreak, improving your health, quality of life, and wellbeing is the way to go. But it sometimes is a Catch-22 situation, unfortunately, whereby the things that can help the most are the things that are also the most difficult to do at times.