By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Jan. 10, 2022) -- Due to recent increases in COVID-19 positivity case numbers, the Defense Department headquarters has moved to Health Protection Condition Charlie, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said during a briefing today.
"Due to the recent increasing spread of COVID-19 ... this morning the Pentagon officially went to HPCON Charlie, to protect our workforce, their families, our communities and our support to the absolutely critical mission of this department," Kirby said.
Officials continue to monitor COVID-19 conditions in the community surrounding the Pentagon, Kirby said, and any additional changes in health protection conditions will be based on an analysis of those conditions.
DOD has five "health protection conditions," beginning with 0, or "routine," and then to Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta. When the HPCON is C, or "Charlie," an area is experiencing "sustained community transmission."
Under HPCON Charlie, employees can expect cancellation of in-person gatherings, a restricted ability to travel and severely restricted access to military installations.
As a result of the move to HPCON Charlie, a number of measures were put in place at the direction of Michael Donley, the director for administration and management at the Pentagon.
Included among those measures are that organizations within the building are expected to maintain occupancy rates of less than 25% of what is considered normal.
Individuals in the building, regardless of vaccination status, must wear masks at all times except if they are alone in a closed office, while eating or drinking, or when pulling the mask down for identification purposes.
The memorandum also said that COVID-19 vaccinations, including booster shots, remain available at the Dilorenzo Pentagon Health Clinic, which Kirby said the department continues to recommend to all personnel.
"We continue to encourage all DOD employees and their eligible family members to get a booster shot, and obviously ... to get fully vaccinated," he said.
Right now, COVID-19 vaccinations are a requirement for all U.S. military personnel, while booster shots are not required. Kirby told reporters that no decision has yet been made about making booster shots a requirement.
"We are still in discussions here at the Pentagon about the booster shots and there's been no ... decision made about making them mandatory," he said. "But as the secretary has said many times to the force ... If you're eligible, if you meet the criteria, we absolutely encourage those members of our workforce to get the booster shots because it really does help lessen the effects if, in fact, one contracts the virus."