COVID-19 Effects Waning Across Defense Department, Pentagon

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (June 21, 2021) -- By Wednesday, the restrictions on Pentagon personnel that were the result of COVID-19 will lift a bit, providing the ability for more personnel to work in the building and for larger numbers of people to gather in one location, the Pentagon press secretary said during a briefing today.

According to John F. Kirby, the Pentagon will drop from Health Protection Condition "Bravo-Plus" to HPCON Bravo, beginning June 23rd.

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"Under HPCON Bravo, the occupancy goal will be no more than 50% in workspaces," Kirby said. "That's up from 40% ... where we are now. Supervisors will continue to provide maximum telework opportunities to eligible employees."

Gatherings in the building are currently limited to just 25 people. By Wednesday, that number will go up to 50. Kirby also said workers who are not fully vaccinated should continue to follow DOD mask and social distancing guidelines while in the building.

For the time being, he added, workers entering the building will continue to be screened at a rate of about 10 to 20%, while all visitors will be screened. Additionally, he said, the Pentagon remains closed to public tours and the Pentagon's 9/11 memorial is also closed.

In February, the Defense Department partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to set up community vaccination centers where military personnel were available to administer COVID-19 vaccines to Americans who wanted them.

The last of those vaccination sites -- this one in New Jersey -- shut down yesterday, Kirby said.

"More than 5,100 active duty service members supported 48 federal sites across the country, including Guam, [the Northern Mariana Islands] and the Virgin Islands, and provided nearly 5 million COVID vaccines," Kirby said.

The National Guard continues to operate under guidance from their state governors, he said. To date, the National Guard has administered more than 12 million vaccines to the American public.

"Combined, that's over 17 million vaccines by service members," Kirby said. "As we often see in times of crisis, our troops are marshaled to care for their fellow Americans, and the secretary is very, very proud of the critical role that they played throughout this pandemic and thanks them and their families for the sacrifices and the service that they rendered their fellow citizens."

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