Armed Forces News

Soldiers assigned to the Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force 627th, Fort Carson, Colo., board an aircraft home at Joint Base San Antonio-Kelly Field, Texas, Sept. 8, 2020. (Air Force photo by Sarayuth Pinthong)

Military requirements for mask-wearing have changed. Installation commanders now have the authority to set conditions by which masks should be word, based upon the threat to health Covid-19 presents, according to a scale known as the health protection condition framework (HPCON).

Service secretaries would have the primary responsibility to make HPCON determinations, with further authority delegated to geographic combatant commanders and installation commanders in grade 0-6 or higher.


Whenever the HPCON threat either increases or decreases, commanders will have two weeks to implement or loosen mask restrictions accordingly. They also can take steps to protect the most vulnerable – such as the elderly, immunocompromised, or those with respiratory conditions. Operational considerations could also factor in determining appropriate mask use.

Here is a summary of HPCON levels:

• HPCON D: High community risk, with degraded availability of medical countermeasures and capability.
• HPCON C: High Covid-19 levels in and around communities where installations are located.
• HPCON B: Medium Covid-19 levels in and around military communities.
• HPCON A: Low Covid-19 levels in and around military communities.
• HPOCON 0: Considered the normal baseline. Routine standard operations can take place, while following standard hygienic, dietary, exercise, vaccination, preparedness and education precautions.

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