Coronavirus concerns grow at VMI after cadets pulled from quarantine for annual tradition

After given a rapid COVID-19 test, those cadets were supposed to be separated from the rest of the group

LEXINGTON, Va. – As coronavirus cases lead to new restrictions at VMI, there are allegations that COVID protocols are being completely ignored.

Tighter restrictions went into effect Thursday at VMI after the military college reported more than 50 new COVID-19 cases.

As of Monday, that number is now greater than 80.

“It’s sad. It’s just concerning,” said M, a woman who told 10 News she is the loved one of a cadet but did not want to be publically identified.

An annual tradition at VMI that happened on Saturday is drawing criticism about COVID protocols.

Breakout is the most important day for first-year cadets, one that requires lots of strenuous physical activity.

10 News was told dozens of cadets were pulled out of quarantine, given rapid tests and allowed to participate if they tested negative.

VMI said those cadets were supposed to be separated from the rest of the group, with protocols encouraging 10-foot social distancing and wearing masks when not exercising.

“If at any time that was not able to happen, you know, we’ve heard of some instances where that wasn’t able to happen, we’re looking into that,” said VMI’s Director of Communications and Marketing Col. Bill Wyatt.

The cadet that M knows was at Breakout and she told 10 News that for VMI to be just looking into the situation is not enough.

“We have not only had people in quarantine who should not be with everybody else but there was nobody wearing masks because of the activity they’re doing and it’s very hard to keep everyone separated,” said M.

She reached out to 10 News to voice her concerns but asked us to protect her privacy.

10 News heard similar concerns from others who were involved.

“He says that ultimately COVID doesn’t exist at VMI. It’s something that is quite frankly frequently ignored,” explained M.

“Ultimately the health and well-being of our corps of cadets is paramount and we want to know about these instances so we can correct them and ensure that moving forward they don’t happen again,” Wyatt said.

With the coronavirus continuing to spread on post, some say it’s too late.

“They were just decided to be thrown in with everybody else and in my mind, that’s just such a huge violation,” said M.

The woman who reached out to 10 News said she notified the health department about what happened Saturday.

Central Shenandoah Health District Director Dr. Laura Kornegay released the following statement:

“VMI has been provided all the appropriate guidelines on COVID mitigation measures. There is no public health investigation at present, though we continue to work closely with the health center regarding any positive cases they may identify.”

Central Shenandoah Health District Director Dr. Laura Kornegay

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