FORT KNOX, Ky. – Some recruits will receive active-duty pay ahead of initial training, said top Army leaders, as recruiters move to a 100% virtual platform in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.While the deadly virus continues sweeping the globe, Army leaders are discussing ways to pay future Soldiers sealed off in coronavirus hotbeds and forced to self-isolate at home, instead of leaving on their scheduled Basic Combat Training ship date.“Parents are sending us their sons and daughters, and we have an obligation to take care of them,” said Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville, to Pentagon reporters Friday. “Many of these young men and women were expecting to go to work. So they've quit their jobs to go ahead and serve – we're very cognizant of that.”Paying them is “the right thing to do,” said Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, commanding general of U.S. Army Recruiting Command. This comes as officials announce more than 1,400 recruiting stations will shift to exclusively virtual operations to stop the spread of COVID-19.However, the Army’s recruiting force is still in business. Instead of in-person communicating, recruiters will use virtual tools like social media, text messaging, video chats, and even online gaming, Muth said.He added that he is confident in the Army’s ability to operate in a virtual space, especially as virtual communication has already become a primary method of talking with potential Soldiers.“We are going to virtual recruiting; much of that is done on social media and that allows us to protect our soldiers and also protect the new recruits,” McConville said.“While face-to-face discussions are valuable when discussing options to serve in the U.S. Army, we are able to work around that – if necessary,” Muth said. “Right now, I think that is necessary for the health and safety of our force and those around them.”“Force health protection is our highest priority,” he added, “[USAREC] is taking precautions to protect the health of the force and minimize exposure to coronavirus disease while remaining dedicated to meeting mission requirements.”Recruiters are now focused on the virtual space, and will continue to connect with individuals interested in serving. This modeling system, according to Muth, will analyze the potential impacts on leads. But at this point, he said it’s too early to know what impact it will make.The Army was already ahead of its recruiting goal before the COVID-19 outbreak, Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy explained. With the spread of the virus impacting parts of the country more than others, he said the force is continuously learning and adapting to meet its recruiting mission.Many young men and women want to stay home to be with their families, McCarthy said. Army leaders are looking to defer enlistment bonuses to give future Soldiers a chance to weather this difficult time before shipping off to basic military training.USAREC is also implementing improved screening processes to ensure the safety of all personnel, McConville said. The Army has started screening recruits for COVID-19 at all military entrance processing stations.To meet the Army’s end-strength goals, future Soldiers will continue to push forward to Basic Combat Training. However, procedures are in place to evaluate and monitor them before they can enter, McConville said.As a precautionary measure, recruiters are pre-screening all future Soldiers who are within 15 days of shipping to BCT, officials said. Recruits with increased risk factors or showing symptoms are directed to contact a medical provider and be evaluated, and they must be cleared by Military Entrance Processing Station professionals before shipping.This could result in a delay in shipping to the training base, officials said. The length of the delay will depend on how long it takes the individual to be free of any symptoms to ensure the future Soldier does not have COVID-19. It will also depend on training seat availability.Recruits who are not at increased risk and are symptom-free will ship to basic training as scheduled. Once these recruits arrive at their training installation, they will receive another round of screening.After recruits graduate BCT, they will continue to their advanced individual training, or AIT, locations based on guidance from their chains of command.To date, Army officials have identified six recruits with coronavirus symptoms, but none have confirmed cases. Sixty-seven service members have tested positive for the invisible virus, including 21 Soldiers.U.S. Army Guidance on CoronavirusCOVID-19 response: Secretary McCarthy hosts press conference with Gen. McConville