Pentagon Moves to Health Protection Condition Charlie
JAN. 10, 2022 | BY C. TODD LOPEZ, DOD NEWS
“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.”
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.”
The Defense Department is taking action around the globe to keep our service members, civilian employees, contractors and their families safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, all while supporting our continued mission.During many of the public briefings that have been held about the crisis, DOD leaders have often mentioned the acronym “HPCON.” If you’re not sure what that is, here’s your answer.
The DOD has protocol for public health emergencies, and they’re known as health protection conditions – HPCONs. Commanders review and update these HPCONs based on risk levels within a local community and in cooperation with local, state or host nation guidance. Military leaders and public health personnel use them to guide actions taken in response to a health threat.
When the HPCON is 0, or “Routine,” maintain your everyday actions to stop the spread of germs:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw it in the trash. Cough or sneeze into your elbow if tissues are unavailable.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Practice a good diet and exercise.
- Make sure all immunizations are up to date, including your seasonal flu shot.
- Stay home if you are sick, and avoid close contact with family members and pets.
- Create an emergency preparedness kit.
- Create a pet disaster preparedness kit if needed.
When the HPCON is A, or “Alpha,” there’s a limited health alert. Maintain your routine actions but also:
- Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- If you’re sick, call your medical provider for instructions on receiving care before going to a clinic or hospital. Make sure your installation is aware of the symptoms of your health threat.
- Stay informed by routinely checking reliable sources of information such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and your local public health agencies.
When the HPCON is B, or “Bravo,” your area is experiencing an increase in community transmissions. Follow the guidelines for the previous HPCONs along with the following:
- Practice social distancing. Avoid unnecessary contact with others, such as shaking hands and hugging.
- Avoid unnecessary travel, especially to areas known to be experiencing active disease transmission.
- Ensure supplies of food, medication and other items needed for babies and pets are available to last at least 14 days.
- Prepare for travel restrictions and cancellation of public gatherings, such as school, religious and other community activities. Make alternative arrangements for childcare.
- Observe local guidance on movement restrictions and access requirements for military installations.
- Seek guidance from employers and unit leaders about changes to work practices (for example, telework) and training events.
- Comply with medical orders for self-isolation or quarantine.
When the HPCON is C, or “Charlie,” your area is experiencing sustained community transmission. Follow all previous HPCON instructions and:
- Expect cancellation of in-person gatherings (such as school, daycare and all community activities) and restricted ability to travel.
- Plan activities for family members, especially children, in case you are restricted to your home for prolonged time periods.
- Prepare for the potential of limited access to supplies and services, including severely restricted access to military installations.
- Implement remote work procedures as directed by your employer.
- If outside the U.S., authorized or ordered departure actions may be implemented.
When the HPCON is D, or “Delta,” your area is experiencing severe, widespread community transmission. Follow all previous HPCON instructions and implement the following:
- Expect to remain at home for extended periods of time as movement in the community may be restricted; at-home isolation or quarantine may be directed.
- Follow all directives and guidance from local, state and federal authorities; they are enacted to protect the health and safety of you and your family.
Regardless of the HPCON level, always follow the guidance from your installation and local public health agencies.