Naval Station Great Lakes adds off-base hotel quarantine for new recruits, year of COVID-19 safety measures planned

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Every sailor in the Navy goes through basic training at north suburban Naval Station Great Lakes. Now, the I-Team has learned that military officials are preparing for COVID-19 recruit safety guidelines to be in place for a year.

The next round of new Navy recruits begin to arrive at Naval Station Great Lakes on Monday. Now, because of COVID-19, personnel on base are following similar personal protection and social separation rules that apply to civilians.

After a three week pause in new arrivals to bootcamp, next week when 500 recruits report to Great Lakes, the Navy will begin imposing what it calls "Restriction of Movement" or ROM, to use the military acronym, including a 14-day quarantine in which, for the first time ever, recruits will be housed off-base.

"We'll move them via bus transport over to our off-site ROM facility, which is going to be a local hotel in Gurnee, Illinois," Rear Admiral Jamie Sands, Commander, Naval Service Training Command told the I-Team.

The quarantine hotel is not just any hotel, the I-Team has learned. Better known for family weekends, Great Wolf Lodge will house the new recruits. In keeping with the Navy theme, it seems fitting that it is attached to an indoor water park.

Great Wolf Lodge officials tell the I-Team that they're "proud to support the U.S. Military" and "during this time when our resorts are temporarily closed to the public" they are "providing short-term accommodations" for "incoming recruits to (maintain) a mandated 14-day observational period before transference to the base for basic training."

They say all recruits staying at the resort will pass a Navy health screening prior to arrival.

The Navy sees this new process as a way to keep COVID-19 off the base where 25,000 people work including 4200 recruits.

Rear Admiral Sands told the I-Team that Great Lakes recruits were also asked to self-isolate for two weeks before training camp.

"This gives us about a 95 percent certainty that they no longer have or are not carrying the virus, before we begin training," Rear Admiral Sands said. "We are making plans to do this for as long as year. So the situation that we have-we are going to be set up to continue to execute this for at least a year."

More than half of the Navy's 1,255 infected sailors are from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. Although Great Lakes officials decline to provide specific numbers of sick there, it is believed that dozens may be currently in isolation.
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