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Air Force Academy confirms COVID-19 cases among incoming class

Academy basic cadets participate in restriction of movement training at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo., June 29, 2020.

TECH. SGT. BENJAMIN W. STRATTON/U.S. AIR FORCE

By SAM TABACHNIK | The Denver Post | Published: July 3, 2020

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(Tribune News Service) — The U.S. Air Force Academy has confirmed members of its freshman cadet class have tested positive for COVID-19, but pushed back against reports indicating a massive outbreak.

An Air Force Academy spokesperson called them “outbreak rumors” in response to Denver Post inquiries, saying it was “way, way less than the rumor mill on social media.” The Academy would not release the number of positive cases.

“Although the Department of Defense directs DOD installations to report numbers of positive COVID-19 cases only to the respective military service branches, we can say the number of positive COVID-19 cases at the Academy are far lower than what has been reported on social media,” Michael Kucharek, an Air Force Academy spokesman, said in a statement.

“The Academy is deemed one of the U.S. Force’s critical accession sources and the Academy has been deemed mission essential by the Secretary of the Air Force. We will continue to carry out our mission of training and educating future Air and Space force leaders with the safety of our cadets, faculty, staff and the entire USAFA population as a main priority. We have a rigorous medical response plan in place to mitigate risks here and are working closely with our installation medical professionals, and in line with DOD and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.”

The Colorado Springs Independent first reported the outbreak Thursday.

More than 1,100 incoming cadets arrived on campus June 25, going through a modified version of the institution’s traditional “In-processing Day” in light of the coronavirus pandemic, Colorado Public Radio reported.

Each cadet was tested as soon as they arrived, before conducting two weeks of online training and in-processing, during which they would have “limited exposure to fellow cadets outside of their cohort of 30 appointees,” the Academy said on its website.

The appointees would then be retested for the virus before beginning the rigorous basic training within their 30-person unit.

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