Fact Check: Biden's Military Does NOT Put West Point Cadets In Solitary Confinement If They Refuse COVID-19 Vaccine

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: Biden's Military Does NOT Put West Point Cadets In Solitary Confinement If They Refuse COVID-19 Vaccine Not Required

Does the military under President Joe Biden put West Point cadets in solitary confinement if they refuse the COVID-19 vaccine? No, that's not true. Unvaccinated cadets at West Point "are required to spend seven days in restriction of movement if they arrive from off the installation, but they are not required to spend 23 hours of the day in their room," the West Point U.S. Military Academy Public Affairs Office told Lead Stories. There are other restrictions on the housing of the cadets who are not vaccinated but none of the circumstances are "solitary confinement."

The claim appeared as an article published by National File on June 9, 2021 titled "EXCLUSIVE: Biden's Military Puts West Point Cadets in Solitary Confinement If They Refuse COVID Vaccine - National File" (archived here) which opened:

Cadets at West Point who refuse to take the COVID vaccine are being put in isolation, with more stringent restrictions than those who tested positive

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

EXCLUSIVE: Biden's Military Puts West Point Cadets in Solitary Confinement If They Refuse COVID Vaccine - National File

Cadets at West Point who refuse to take the COVID vaccine are being put in isolation, with more stringent restrictions than those who tested positive

The article on the National File website was picked up and posted on several social media accounts, including in this TikTok video.

The article claimed:

An anonymous whistleblower, whose identity National File is protecting, gave a breakdown of the current restrictions that West Point cadets who refuse to take the COVID vaccine have to face. For those cadets returning for summer programs, they will have their two week leave shortened to one, as they have to spend 7 days in a quarantine that amounts to serious solitary confinement. The cadets are locked up for 23 hours each day in one room, and are only allowed out for one hour to walk or run outside."

The West Point U.S. Military Academy Public Affairs Office emailed Lead Stories on June 15, 2021, with a statement regarding the claim:

The COVID-19 vaccine is encouraged, not mandatory. West Point is focused on maximizing training opportunities and building cohesive teams for all cadets, regardless of vaccination status. Since vaccinated cadets may still carry and spread COVID to the unvaccinated, West Point continues to follow Centers for Disease Control, Department of Defense, and Department of the Army guidance for COVID mitigation protocols. Though they train together and are fully integrated in all activities, unvaccinated cadets are currently being housed separately from vaccinated cadets to minimize transmission risk and are provided with equal or better living conditions. The academy's risk mitigation plan for summer military training was developed under the guidance of medical advisors, experience from last year's academy summer training experiences, and is aligned with the measures used in other military training exercises across the Army."

In contrast to what the National File article stated, the cadets were not in solitary confinement and allowed outside for only an hour a day. The West Point statement explained the regulations for unvaccinated cadets who return to the campus -- north of New York City on the Hudson River -- from off-site:

Unvaccinated cadets are required to spend seven days in restriction of movement if they arrive from off the installation, but they are not required to spend 23 hours of the day in their room. During restricted movement cadets are allowed to come and go for exercise outdoors as many times per day as they would like; indoor exercise facilities are provided; and they have access to take-out food delivery and delivery is provided from the Post Exchange. During the restriction of movement period, they are not allowed into public buildings or residential areas on post. West Point is focused on maximizing training opportunities and building cohesive teams for all cadets, regardless of vaccination status. Since vaccinated cadets may still carry and spread COVID to the unvaccinated, West Point continues to follow Centers for Disease Control, Department of Defense, and Department of the Army guidance for COVID mitigation protocols. Vaccines are currently available through Emergency Use Authorization and while highly encouraged, vaccination is not mandatory. Correspondingly, vaccinations, testing, isolation, and quarantine remain the best options available to maintain a healthy environment for our cadets and West Point community.

As the academy has transitioned from the academic program to summer military training activities, accommodations and risk mitigation measures are being made to protect all cadets within these policies and established guidelines. The health and welfare of the Corps of Cadets remains our top priority as we ensure that our mission critical task to maintain readiness continues.

Currently, the Department of Defense is not mandating vaccinations for U.S. military members, and it remains optional but encouraged for West Point personnel. Any harassment, abuse, threats, or punitive measures targeting unvaccinated personnel is antithetical to West Point policy, ideals, and Army values. West Point takes every report of inappropriate behavior very seriously and takes immediate actions to address such reports in a timely manner."

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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