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On Jan. 30, 2020, the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency of international concern for the 2019 novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. On Jan. 31, 2020, the secretary of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency in the United States and announced new measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The current epidemic, which originated in mainland China, has demonstrated the capacity of COVID-19 to spread globally. While supporting other government agencies’ response to the COVID-19 threat, the Department of the Air Force is responding appropriately to protect the health of the force and maintain operational readiness.
Department of Defense Issues Guidelines to Personnel on Coronavirus
We encourage all DOD personnel to refer to the guidance below, as well as the CDC guidance (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html), and take precautions to stay healthy. Information from the Department of State can be found here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/novel-coronavirus-hubei-province--china.html
Supplement 1 (Jan. 30, 2020): Force Health Protection Guidance for the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak
Supplement 2 (Feb. 25, 2020): Force Health Protection Guidance for Commanders' Risk-Based Measured Responses
For more DOD-related guidance on the Coronavirus, visit: https://health.mil/News/In-the-Spotlight/coronavirus
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
For more information to protect yourself, friends and family from unknowingly spreading diseases, visit the CDC website here.
A: Air Force medical facilities are protecting the force in accordance with Office of the Secretary of Defense Force Health Protection Guidance.
- Air Force medical facilities are mitigating the spread of the virus by ensuring accountability of all service members who have returned from mainland China and placing those service members under a 14-day restriction of movement.
- The Air Force is preparing by publishing screening and event-management guidance, training staff in CDC processes and ensuring medical personnel rehearse event-management processes.
- Air Force medical staff help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 by using personal protective equipment, as well as developing health-surveillance protocols, PPE requirements and tracing processes in coordination with state and local public health organizations.
- Air Force medical facilities will respond to the COVID-19 threat by identification, monitoring and management of possible cases and positive tests for the virus, protecting staff and beneficiaries within hospitals and the local community.
- Air Force medical facilities will educate and reassure beneficiaries by providing information directly and in concert with installation leadership and state and local public health organizations.
A: Personnel who are at elevated risk of getting COVID-19 due to possible contact with an individual confirmed to have COVID-19, and/or individuals with symptoms and possible travel history to an area of elevated risk, are being screened for the disease.
A: The safety and health of our Airmen and Space professionals is paramount to mission readiness. In the event that an Air Force member or dependent tests positive for COVID-19, each medical facility has plans in place for treatment, and will take appropriate measures to mitigate the spread of the virus. The patient will be isolated appropriately in a private room with a door and its own bathroom, if available. The appropriate personal protective equipment will be available to the patient and the staff consistent with CDC guidelines. Actions to protect patients and staff include education and future contact tracing if required. Air Force officials at all levels are working closely with the local/regional health departments and the CDC to validate our preparedness for public health emergencies.
A: Senior leaders in each region evaluate the potential safety for travel and military operations by Airmen and Space professionals. As a matter of precaution, members returning from overseas duties from affected regions are being monitored before they leave the region, during their travel back, and upon arrival at their destination. Airmen and Space professionals deployed to affected regions are complying with commanders’ directives regarding travel and military duties associated with current operations.
A: We are complying with any DOD travel restrictions and clearance processes. Currently, INDOPACOM has restricted all non-essential travel (including leave, liberty, etc) in the Republic of Korea, China and Mongolia. EUCOM has restricted all non-official travel in and out of the Lombardy and Milan regions of Italy. The U.S. and South Korean militaries have made the decision to postpone joint military exercises. U.S. Central Command has suspended leave and liberty for service members and DOD civilians within its area of responsibility.
A: The Air Force has not postponed, redirected or canceled any exercises at this time. Department of Air Force units or individual members participating in regional command joint exercises may have unique impacts. However, we are continually assessing the current environment and are working with our host nations in the regions to ensure the health and safety of our members as operations continue.
A: The safety and security of all of our recruits is of the utmost importance to us and we are taking steps to ensure their safety and well-being. All members entering basic military training are required to process military entrance processing stations on the day of or the day before departing for basic military training. Members at MEPS have virus protocol procedures to observe and take temperatures of all individuals entering MEPS facilities. Air Force recruiters also complete a medical prescreen on all applicants that covers all medical concerns, to include COVID-19. We continue to encourage all members and their families to follow CDC guidance for COVID-19.
A: Commanders of individually affected geographic combatant commands are issuing specific guidance to their forces, to educate and safeguard military and civilian personnel, family members and bases communities in preventing wide-spread outbreak. The CDC has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Alert for Italy and South Korea, recommending travelers avoid all non-essential travel. The closing of child development centers in those areas are in-line with local health official recommendations.
A: All Air Force personnel are encouraged to follow the guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The risk of contracting the new coronavirus virus is low, but CDC officials do recommend getting an influenza vaccine and taking everyday preventive actions to help preclude the spread of germs. We encourage all Air Force personnel and their families to continue to practice proper hygiene as the best way to prevent the spread of viruses. This includes washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Also, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands and avoid close contact with those who are sick. Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces should also be done.
A: According to the CDC, anyone contracting a respiratory illness shouldn’t assume it is novel coronavirus; it is far more likely to be a more common malady, such as seasonal influenza or the common cold. However, patients who traveled to China, or another area where COVID-19 has been identified as having community transmission, in the past 14 days and currently have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, should immediately seek medical care and notify their medical provider of their travel history. If possible, call the medical facility before arrival so the staff can take appropriate precautions. Military medical facilities have provided guidance on how to address such circumstances. People who think they may have been exposed to the virus should contact their healthcare provider immediately.
A: USNORTHCOM provides guidelines to the Military Departments and other DoD Agencies in the Continental United States. The Military Departments provide additional guidance to their installations. The local commanders make appropriate FHP decisions regarding their installations.
A. Much like the guidance that CDC provides to the public, the Department of Defense provides similar guidance to military commanders. The primary difference is that the DoD guidance is designed to ensure the Department of Defense can continue to perform its mission. Installation commanders use the HPCON framework to select an appropriate response to a public health emergency or incident of public health concern. The framework clarifies uncertainty associated with these situations and provides options based on the scope and severity of the situation.
A: There are no current closures due to the Corona virus. Local installation commanders will notify base personnel in the event a base closes due to the virus.
A: Generally, no. Contractors will not report to duty at a government facility. The only exception would be those contracts deemed mission essential. If you’re unsure if your contract is mission essential it probably isn’t. Contact your contract administrator if you believe your contract is mission essential.
A: The ability to telework is contract-specific and the USG may deny telework due to security risks. A performance work statement and/or DD 254 may include telework guidance. Contact your contract administrator to determine if telework is acceptable for your contract.
A: Contractors are not allowed to bill for services not rendered. Therefore, unless the contractor is working at an authorized location (i.e., downtown office space) the contractor would not bill for those hours.
A: Yes. However, this is between the contractor and its employees; the USG doesn’t make this decision. The way the contractor compensates the employee is determined by the applicable SCA wage determination and Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA.) Absent SCA or CBA language directing payment during a base closure, a contractor may choose to pay employees or allow them to take their version of liberal leave. Bottom line, the contractor cannot charge the USG for work not performed.
A: For COST contracts: The contractor will manage their workforce to complete the services. The contractor must submit a contractor’s change request (i.e., change request or CCR) to the contracting officer prior to incurring additional expenses or overtime hours.
For FFP contracts: The contractor will manage their workforce to complete the services. The USG will not be involved with scheduling contractor employees. The contractor may make up those hours however the USG will not pay additional costs for those hours. It is unlikely a request for equitable adjustment will be approved.
The Air Force Global Strike Command released a Commander’s Intent for operations in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The intent, which can be read here, outlines three specific areas that are aimed at protecting the Airmen, families, teammates and ultimately the global-strike conventional and nuclear missions.
Read the full story here.
The Department of Defense has stopped movement for all domestic travel for DOD components in response to COVID-19. The memorandum can be read here.
The stop movement and concurrent travel guidance related to travel restrictions due to COVID-19, updated as of March 15, can be found here.
The DOD guidance is effective on Monday, March 16, 2020. For personnel stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base, LA, “local area” travel and leave are defined as within two hours of assigned duty location. In combination with other directed measures, this aims to decrease transmission of COVID-19. Address individual questions about local leave and travel through your chain of command. When additional guidance is available, it will be published here.
Current restricted travel information can be found on the CDC website here, or on the Dept. of State travel site here.
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