U.S. military installations across the Indo-Pacific and U.S. are increasing various health protection measures as the new coronavirus, or COVID-19 continues to create disruptions across the globe.
U.S. Indo-Pacific Command announced Tuesday that its installations were going to Health Protection Condition Bravo, which is defined as a moderate risk, according to a news release.
“Strict personal and environmental hygiene is recommended; no handshakes or hugs; limit gatherings to no more than 50 people,” the news release reads.
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson said people stationed at the Alaskan base should expect changes to ID checks at the gate, chow facilities and limits on purchases at the commissary, according to a release.
Other installations across the U.S. have announced HPCON Bravo conditions to include: Fort Mead, Maryland; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Fort Gordon, Georgia; and the Marine Barracks in Washington D.C.
“Commanders at all levels of the chain of command are assessing risks to the force and implementing mitigation protocols to ensure their assigned forces remain protected and fully prepared to respond to any contingency,” U.S. Northern Command told Military Times in an emailed statement Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Marine Corps Installations East announced all its bases were increasing to HPCON Bravo.
“MCIEAST personnel along with Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune (NMCCL) are working diligently to review best practices, hone plans and remain prepared should there be a need to increase to the next level of HPCON,” a release said.
MCIEAST installations include three East Coast Marine air stations, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and a logistics base in Albany, Georgia.
The Marine Barracks in Washington D.C. announced it had increased to HPCON Bravo on Wednesday.
A news release from the historic Marine barracks said the changes will cause “minor impacts to operations.”
“Safety measures being implemented include: avoiding large, non-essential gatherings; limiting movement in public or crowded areas” and changes to chow facilities to allow for social distancing, a Marine release detailed.
“MCIEAST military and medical leaders are taking the necessary precautions to prevent a potential outbreak,” the Marine release reads.
The U.S. military uses the force health protection measures to protect the military and family members from viral outbreaks, NORTHCOM told Military Times.
The health protection measures include five levels, “(Normal, Alpha, Bravo, Charlie & Delta) to describe the threat to the health of DoD personnel and the measures to enact at each level to mitigate the threat,” NORTHCOM explained.
“These measures include educating personnel on the threat and reviewing plans to limit communication of the virus,” NORTHCOM said.
“Additional measures include proper hygiene practices such as washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoiding contact with those who have been sick, practicing social distancing, going to the doctor if feeling ill, and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses,” NORTHCOM said.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.