(Source : [email protected] – Abstract -) –  The Pentagon [on March 16th, 2020] will transition to a largely virtual workplace to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus while the military suspends all domestic travel until May 11 that is not designated critical. (…) .
Many offices will “voluntarily go to minimal staffing,” including staggering shifts in the building “to limit cross-interaction,” said a senior Defense official who briefed reporters on Saturday. That also means that as of Sunday, the Pentagon is now at Health Condition Bravo, which bars foreign visitors, those without an access card, and anyone who has been abroad in designated countries over the last 14 days. ” (…)

  • Access to secret material: One lingering question is whether some officials will be able to do their work if they regularly rely on classified information. But senior Defense officials who briefed reporters insisted those limits will not have any measurable impact on operations. “If the use of classified information is essential to your mission, then you will continue to have access to the Pentagon and will not be placed on telework,” one official said.
  • New travel restrictions: The drastic measures also include a halt to domestic travel, except in “compelling cases where the travel is mission-essential, for humanitarian reasons, or warranted due to extreme hardship,” Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist announced late Friday.
    “Travel by patients and medical providers for the purpose of medical treatment for DoD personnel and their family members is authorized,” his memo stipulates. “Individuals who have already initiated travel (including intermediate stops) are authorized to continue to their final destination. (…)”
    The new guidance comes on top of measures instituted late last week to halt all travel to the most affected areas of the world and as the Navy reported on Sunday night the first sailor aboard ship, the USS Boxer, to test positive for the virus. (…)
  • Guard call-ups on rise: National Guard troops are also being steadily deployed to support the containment and mitigation efforts — an estimated 580 Air and Army National Guard troops across 13 states as of Sunday morning, a National Guard spokesman told Morning D. “Going forward, each state will have an individual approach based on unique needs of the emergency response enterprise in their state,” he said. On Friday, the National Guard Bureau predicted the numbers will sharply rise in the coming days.
  • ‘Action on contact’: The military is also on a war footing against the virus overseas, especially in hard-hit South Korea, Army Gen. Robert Abrams told reporters at the Pentagon on Friday. “The proximity of the virus to our installations was literally at our doorsteps,” he said, saying the command has “operationalized our approach to combating COVID-19 from the very beginning.” “This is not an administrative task, this is not a medical task and it’s not a routine event, but it’s an operation,” he added.  (…)
  • Could the U.S. military do more? The Democratic governor of hard-hit New York thinks so, along with some leading medical professionals who urged President Donald Trump to enlist the Pentagon to help build additional medical facilities to minimize stress on the health care system.  “States cannot build more hospitals, acquire ventilators or modify facilities quickly enough,” Andrew Cuomo wrote in an open letter to Trump in the Sunday New York Times. “At this point, our best hope is to utilize the Army Corps of Engineers to leverage its expertise, equipment and people power to retrofit and equip existing facilities — like military bases or college dormitories — to serve as temporary medical centers. Then we can designate existing hospital beds for the acutely ill.”
    “We believe the use of active-duty Army Corps personnel would not violate federal law because this is a national disaster,” he added. (…)


Source : www.politico.com

Photo © Two U.S. Army Soldiers and a Republic of Korea Army Soldier spray a COVID-19 infected area with a solution of disinfectant in Daegu, Republic of Korea, March 13, 2020, US Army Photo, as published in >>> //news.usni.org/2020/03/15/pentagon-navy-order-sweeping-stop-movement-order-to-limit-coronavirus-spread