Military personnel, civilians and contractors working at Defense Ministry facilities in areas where COVID-19 cases are increasing will be required to hide indoors, according to a note signed by the Deputy Secretary of Defense on Wednesday Kathleen Hicks.
The warrant begins Wednesday in places with “significant or high community transmission,” the note said, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Service members, federal employees, employees of on-site contractors, and visitors who are not fully immunized should also continue to physically distance themselves in accordance with applicable CDC and DoD Force Health Protection guidelines,” added Hicks.
High transmission areas include anything marked orange or red on the CDC’s online tracking, which includes much of the Southeastern United States, across the Midwest, Texas, and into the West Mountain. .
While masking regulations have come straight from the Pentagon since early 2020, local commanders have the power to decide who comes to facilities and which facilities are open, and to whom, throughout the pandemic, based on statistics. local infections.
The latest DoD data, which has not been updated since July 21, shows 44% of the force – over a million troops – is fully immunized, including active duty troops and troops reserve. Another 228,816 partial vaccinations brings the rate to 54%.
While new COVID-19 infections have slowed since the vaccines were introduced, service members continue to be diagnosed. As of July 21, there were 3,600 active cases among the troops.
In general, troops on active duty are more likely to be vaccinated than their reserve counterparts. The Navy has the highest vaccination rate, at 77%, while the Marine Corps recorded the lowest, 58%, at the end of June.
As delta variant cases continue to rise in the United States, the military has reported its first deaths since May. Both were Sailors, one of whom was a medic at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, NC
The Navy did not disclose whether the sailors were vaccinated, citing confidentiality rules.
The CDC has reported that more than 90% of new COVID-19 cases and about 99% of severe or fatal cases are in people who have not been vaccinated.
President Joe Biden is expected to announce a vaccination mandate for federal employees on Thursday, but the Pentagon is not currently working on new guidelines that would make vaccines mandatory.
“There has been no change in our use of the vaccine as a voluntary measure of protection,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday. “We continue to urge everyone in the department to get vaccinated. “
The Pentagon’s position has been to keep the vaccines voluntary and then re-evaluate them once they have received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration.