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Coronavirus Disease 2019 Questions and Answers

Current as of Sept. 15, 2021


Below are some of the questions you might have about the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

Force Health Protection

Yes. Masks are required regardless of vaccination status while on the Pentagon Reservation, which includes the Pentagon, the Mark Center Campus and the Raven Rock Mountain Complex.

Exceptions include:

  • When alone in an office with floor-to-ceiling walls and a closed door
  • For brief periods of time while eating and drinking, provided you maintain at least a 6-foot distance from others and are in accordance with instructions from commanders and supervisors
  • When necessary to reasonably accommodate a disability

You may be required to lower your mask for identification or security purposes.

Organizations on the Pentagon Reservation must post signs and information on their websites explaining the mask requirement. The Department of Defense may provide masks for those who do not have one.

The Department of Defense requires those who are not fully vaccinated to wear a mask in common areas, shared workspaces and outdoor shared spaces on an installation. Masks are also required on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation; and in airports and bus and train stations. If fully vaccinated, follow the Centers for Disease Control guidance for when you have been fully vaccinated.

Limited testing of asymptomatic service members is taking place. Specifically, 10% of those who live in congregate settings, 10% of those who work in health care and 1% of others will be tested. Service members preparing to deploy and those starting training will be tested as well. Additionally, asymptomatic service members involved in critical national capabilities will be tested, followed by engaged fielded forces, then forward deployed and redeployed forces as testing capacity increases.

For more information, see the memorandum, Force Health Protection Guidance (Supplement 11) – Department of Defense Guidance for Coronavirus Disease 2019 Surveillance and Screening with Testing.

Review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information for guidance on what to watch out for if you are feeling sick.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has guidance on protecting yourself and others. It offers advice on everything from hand washing to house cleaning and avoiding contact if you must leave the house.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has answers to a range of questions related to testing.

Speak with your supervisor if you or a family member becomes sick and you run out of sick leave. You may receive an advance of up to 30 days of sick leave for yourself, and up to 13 days of sick leave to care for a family member who is ill.

Learn more in the memorandum, Military Personnel Guidance for Department of Defense Components in Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019.

Visit COVID-19 Accessible Resources to find accessible versions of the Centers for Disease Control’s COVID-19 guidance.

The CDC recommends wearing a non-medical disposable mask or mask made with breathable or tightly-woven fabric. Masks should have two or three layers and include an inner pocket for a filter. Masks should completely cover your nose and mouth and fit snugly against the side of the face. Choose masks with a nose wire, which prevents air from leaking out of the top of the mask. See CDC guidance for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Regardless of vaccination status, masks are required while indoors on installations in areas of high community COVID-19 transmission. Those who are not fully vaccinated are required to wear a mask on all installations and other DOD facilities regardless of the level of community transmission.

You can find the level of transmission in your area through the Centers for Disease Control data tracker. The CDC also offers guidance and definitions of low, moderate, substantial and high spread.

You will need to practice social distancing whenever you are with others outside your immediate household, both indoors and outdoors.

Masks must be worn indoors regardless of vaccination status in areas of high community transmission of COVID-19. Those who are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear masks while on installations and other DOD facilities regardless of the level of community transmission. Exceptions to mask wearing are:

  • While alone in an office with floor-to-ceiling walls and a closed door
  • For brief periods of time while eating and drinking, provided you maintain at least 6 feet of  distance to others and are in accordance with instructions from commanders and supervisors
  • When necessary to accommodate a disability

You may be required to lower your mask for identification or security purposes.

You can find the level of transmission of COVID-19 in your area through the Centers for Disease Control data tracker. The CDC also offers guidance and definitions of low, moderate, substantial and high spread.

You must wear a mask indoors on military installations and other Department of Defense facilities in areas of high community transmission regardless of your vaccination status. You can find the level of transmission in your area through the Centers for Disease Control data tracker. The CDC also offers guidance and definitions of low, moderate, substantial and high spread.

Anyone not fully vaccinated must continue to wear masks and social distance on installations and other DOD facilities regardless of the level of community transmission.

Everyone, regardless of vaccination status or level of community transmission, is required to wear a mask in airports, bus and train stations and on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation.

Travel

The Department of Defense and other governmental agencies issue regular updates about traveling during COVID-19. Get the latest about travel restrictions at the installation level at the DOD’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Installation Status Update. Look up state regulations at the Centers for Disease Control’s health department website, which links to state health departments nationwide. For information about COVID-19 restrictions in other countries, visit the Department of State’s COVID-19 Specific Information page.

You may travel outside your local area with authorization from your unit commander or equivalent.

Financial, Pay & Benefits

Refer to the article “Obtaining and Renewing Military ID and Common Access Cards During COVID-19” on Military OneSource. In addition, the Department of Defense provides a wealth of information at CAC.mil/coronavirus.

Military OneSource offers free financial counseling to service members and their families on issues such as budgeting, money management and debt reduction.

If impacted by COVID-19, there are several things you can do to make sure you continue to receive your medication.

  • Call your military pharmacy to see if they can transfer your prescription to home delivery.
  • Visit the Express Scripts website at https://militaryrx.express-scripts.com/home-delivery or call 877-363-1303, 24/7 to switch your prescription to home delivery. This transfer will require a new prescription from your doctor.
  • Call your retail network pharmacy and ask them to call your military pharmacy to transfer your medication, or call your provider for a new prescription. You can find a retail network pharmacy at https://militaryrx.express-scripts.com/find-pharmacy.
  • If you don’t have any refills left, call your provider to send a new prescription to home delivery or your retail network pharmacy.

Review the “Making the Most of Your TRICARE Pharmacy Benefits” webinar and get an overview of benefits, drug categories and costs, options and even a COVID-19 update.

Service members and families who have been affected financially as a result of travel restrictions, closures and other events from COVID-19 can check with their service relief organization to see if emergency help is available.

Review the information in the article Learn the Warning Signs of ‘Military Scams’ to protect yourself and your family. Remember, there are always people looking to take advantage of a crisis to harm others — be vigilant.

Health & Wellness

Military OneSource has many resources to help you boost your emotional wellness during stressful times. For starters:

While Military OneSource does not provide health care services, it provides resources that can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. This page provides access to self-care mobile apps developed within the Department of Defense, Veteran Affairs and other partners. All the apps are free.

Ask for help if you or your family need it; Military OneSource confidential, non-medical counselors are here for you. If you or a family member are having suicidal thoughts, call the Military Crisis line at 800-273-8255, press 1; text to 838255; or start a confidential chat.

Safeguarding your mental health and well-being is just as important as using the right tools for the job. You can’t function well without them. Practice self-care with these three steps:

  • Recognize the signs of burnout: anxiety, irritability, disengagement, low mood and exhaustion.
  • Take a break: Even 10 minutes to yourself can help you recharge. Use the time to do something that lifts your spirits. Take a brisk walk, practice deep breathing, check out the free digital health tools below. If you tend to lose track of time when you’re busy, set a reminder on your phone or wearable device.
  • Help create a positive environment. We’re all in this together, both at work and at home. It’s important to lift each other up. Let your coworkers and family know you appreciate them. Be generous with praise, notice their accomplishments and be helpful and kind.

This research-based broaden and build theory can help your mind and body shift from the fight-or-flight response to a problem-solving mode. The theory states that positive emotions help to calm us so we can think more clearly and creatively.

Request adaptive equipment for your home office from the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program if you have limitations, such as vision loss, hearing loss, memory loss or a physical condition, like arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome. In many instances, equipment can ship directly to your home and keep you working efficiently and safely.

Parenting & Family Life

Social distancing and self-quarantine may not be safe for everyone – especially for individuals in unhealthy or abusive relationships. If you are seeking support for domestic abuse but unsure about next steps, contact your installation’s Family Advocacy Program victim advocate, who can help you identify options for safety even while isolated at home. You can also chat online or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 24/7. If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 911 or your installation law enforcement. To learn more, see the article When Home Isn’t Safe: Tips for Victims of Domestic Abuse.

  • Come up with a plan to deal with the new normal created by the pandemic.
  • Give each other space, which could be going to a different room or maybe just wearing earbuds or headphones.
  • Practice good communication, which starts with setting aside a time to talk when you aren’t too stressed.
  • Check in with each other by video or phone if you are separated because of the pandemic.
  • Find time to be active by building physical activity into your day. Or via a personal health and wellness coach or even a mobile coach.
  • Take time to breathe, and remember why you and your partner love each other.

It’s important to talk to children about COVID-19, because even if they aren’t saying anything, they may have questions and concerns they don’t know how to put into words. Go to DoD Education Activity’s COVID-19 page to see their tips (in the PDF at the bottom of the page) for “How to Talk to Your Kids About the Coronavirus” in an age-appropriate manner.

Just because your children are stuck at home doesn’t mean their educational needs have to be interrupted. Find what you need in this article, Take Advantage of Online Learning Resources While Schools Are Closed.

Having routines is important to help both children and adults handle daily challenges and continue to thrive. Here are some things to consider.

MilParents can tap into these online parenting resources:

  • Thrive is a free online parenting program developed by the Department of Defense with Penn State University. It provides research-based best parenting practices for raising healthy, resilient children from birth to age 18.
  • ZERO TO THREE is designed to support parents in order to ensure that all babies and toddlers have a strong start in life. ZERO TO THREE’s Babies on the Homefront app provides ideas for military and veteran parents to stay connected, no matter where their work takes them.
  • Sesame Street for Military Families offers a variety of products designed for young military children. Their website offers videos on topics like deployment, homecoming, relocation, self-expression and more.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website offers a wealth of information, as well as a COVID-19 Parental Resources Kit. The Department of Defense Educational Activity website also provides an extensive list of Parent Resources.

There are a variety of small things that can add up to keeping everyone engaged, including:

  • Create a daily schedule for each child with hourly activities, and post it somewhere visible like the refrigerator. Make sure to include scheduled family activities.
  • Engage your children in household chores. Toddlers can clean up their toys. Older children can set and clear the table for meals. Teens can be responsible for taking care of younger siblings. Everyone can help fold laundry and plan and prepare meals.
  • Encourage tweens and teens to reach out to their friends. Challenge them to learn about the virus, or research positive things that have resulted around the world from people staying inside. They could also suggest creative ideas for socializing from a safe distance.
  • Work together as a team. Include the whole family in brainstorming ideas for managing chores and planning activities, and try to keep things as positive as possible. Make a list of fun things to do, post it where everyone can add to it, and decide what to add to your daily schedules. For more ideas, check out resources from the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library.
  • Be flexible. It might be helpful to let go of some of your normal expectations for family life. For instance, if you don’t usually allow screen time on school nights, you might allow exceptions as long as everyone understands that the rules return once life returns to normal.

The Centers for Disease Control’s most updated guidance is that “Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing except where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”

Everyone deals with the stress of the pandemic and reentering the world after vaccination in different ways. Some people feel stressed and others feel relief. Here are a few things you can do to help family members ease back into activities once they’re vaccinated:

  • Step outside today. Take a long walk, ride a bike or just enjoy sitting outside with friends. Outdoor activities may provide a sense of safety for those newly vaccinated.
  • Shop the windows. Walk downtown or at the local mall and window-shop until you’re ready to step inside. You’ll save some cash and get some exercise — a win-win!
  • Start out small. Invite a few vaccinated friends or family members over for dinner. Enjoy the socialization you’ve missed during quarantine. Accept invitations to your friend’s or family’s homes.
  • Talk with someone. Contact a Military OneSource non-medical counselor who will listen to your concerns and offer effective strategies to help reduce your stress. Your mental health matters!

Relocation/Deployment

Yes. The Department of Defense has safety measures in place. These include requiring customers and movers to wear face coverings and take other precautions. Your moving company will verify in writing that the movers coming to your home have been screened for illness. Learn more about the DOD’s commitment to protecting your health and safety during moves.

Yes. All service members deploying outside the United States or redeploying will be screened for COVID-19 and tested, if available and appropriate. Service members must undergo a mandatory 14-day restriction of movement before deploying. Redeploying service members may undergo a 14-day ROM if warranted by a risk-based determination. See Force Health Protection Guidance (Supplement 9) – Department of Defense Guidance for Deployment and Redeployment of Individuals and Units during the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic for details.

Military Installations

COVID-19 closing:

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. For updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, view the following sites:

Installation Program Directory

Find programs and services at your local installation.