LEXINGTON PARK, Md. — NAS Patuxent River leadership announced July 29 the requirement for all on the installation to wear face masks while in buildings on base and government vehicles regardless of vaccination status effective immediately per the Department of Defense’s “Updated Mask Guidance for all DoD Installations and Other Facilities” dated July 28.
The move follows the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) announcement July 29 of St. Mary’s County, Maryland’s transition from “moderate” to “substantial” levels of community transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
The DoD memo states, “In areas of substantial or high community transmission, DoD requires all Service members, Federal employees, onsite contractor employees, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask in an indoor setting in installations and other facilities owned, leased or otherwise controlled by DoD.”
Those who are not fully vaccinated also need to continue to physically distance consistent with applicable CDC and DoD Force Health Protection guidance, according to the memo.
“The action to require masks for all on station once again is not one we take lightly, but it is in the interest of safety,” said Capt. John Brabazon, NAS Patuxent River commanding officer. “The health of our personnel, our families, and our neighbors is paramount to all of us at Pax River. But in the case of COVID, it truly is incumbent upon everyone do what is necessary to keep our community safe.”
The requirement for all on NAS Patuxent River to wear masks comes just a day after the base moved back into HPCON Bravo as a result of rising COVID transmissions in the immediate area and Naval District Washington as a whole.
Rising COVID case numbers, particularly among unvaccinated personnel, has driven the need for greater protections against the virus. The Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus has become the predominant strain in many parts of the world and according to CDC estimates, with more than 83 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S. being caused by this strain.
The Delta variant is attacking younger, unvaccinated populations in high volumes not previously seen with COVID-19 and other variants. Widespread acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine provides the best means to defeat this virus and its variants.