Beginning Monday, the Pentagon halted domestic travel for service members, civilian personnel, and their dependents in an effort to stop the coronavirus. It is expected to be in effect from Monday March 16 to May 11, 2020. Deputy Defense Secretary released a memo regarding the guidance. It reads in part:
“The continuing spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) necessitates immediate implementation of travel restrictions for domestic Department of Defense (DoD) travel. These restrictions are necessary to preserve force readiness, limit the continuing spread of the virus, and preserve the health and welfare of Service members, DoD civilian employees, their families, and the local communities in which we live.” Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist.
Dependents are prohibited from using government transportation in the memo, so it’s unclear if they could fly commercial. The President says he’s been “looking at” locking down domestic travel as well – which could be an economy killer, particularly for airlines and buses.
The Pentagon released a statement regarding the memo as reported by Defense One:
Today, the Deputy Secretary of Defense David L. Norquist approved new travel restrictions for service members, DoD civilians, and their families assigned to DoD installations, facilities and surrounding areas within the United States and its territories. This restriction will halt all domestic travel, including Permanent Change of Station, and Temporary Duty. This restriction will also pause civilian hiring at DoD installations and components for persons who do not reside within the hiring entity’s local comminuting [sic] area.
“Additionally, service members will be authorized local leave only, following Service guidelines. This new guidance is effective March 16 and continues through May 11.
“Similar to other travel guidance regarding COVID-19, travel exceptions may be granted for compelling cases where the travel is mission-essential, for humanitarian reasons, or warranted due to extreme hardship. Approval authority for these exceptions belongs to the Combatant Commander, the Service Secretaries, the Chief Management Officer, or the Director of the Joint Staff, but may be delegated.
“The Department will continue to issue additional guidance with regard to the COVID-19 as conditions warrant. Our goal is to remain ahead of the virus spread so our military force remains effective and ready.
“For more information on the CDC travel restrictions, visit https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/.
“We encourage all DOD personnel to visit Coronavirus: DOD Response for information on staying healthy during the outbreak. The Department will issue follow-on guidance on this directive prior to implementation.”
As of March 12, Stripes reported that there were 7 service members and 6 dependents testing positive for COVID-19. Two Marines stationed at Miramar tested positive, one after visiting family in Washington state, according to the Marine Corps Times. Though Miramar is a quarantine base at this point, neither of the two service members reportedly had any contact with quarantined persons.
One service member and his spouse tested positive at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State. But the landscape of the virus changes moment to moment, and the number of cases with it.
There are actually two tests being conducted: one is a “presumptive positive” from a local public health lab. Those results are then sent to a CDC lab for confirmation, according to Stripes.
Featured photo: Minot Airmen board a plane during a mass deployment at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., March 9, 2017. (U.S. Air Force/Christian Sullivan)