Fedweek

The Defense Department has told its senior leaders at headquarters and field installations that they “must combat COVID-I9 fatigue,” as the Coronavirus pandemic enters its third year, saying that “data suggests that individuals have become more relaxed in masking and physical distancing in office and close congregant settings.”

“Leaders must ensure compliance with DoD guidance on the wearing of masks. COVID-19 is an aerosolized virus that circulates in closed settings and spreads easily in office settings,” says a memo from the office of the undersecretary for personnel and readiness.

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“Even if the omicron variant proves to be milder than other COVID-I9 variants, its transmissibility has the ability to overwhelm our health care systems and impact the operational readiness of our forces. While the omicron variant’s characteristics may differ from other variants, the tools that we have successfully used throughout the pandemic, such as masking, physical distancing, teleworking, testing, and vaccination, remain effective and must be continuously implemented,” it says.

Among other policies, it says that leaders “should urge their fully vaccinated personnel” to receive booster shots, saying that while they are not mandatory, they “are essential to protect against breakthrough infections, which appear to be accelerated due to the omicron variant.” Leaders also are to ensure compliance with DoD guidance on the wearing of masks; re-familiarize themselves with testing and quarantine procedures; and ensure their team members are staying at home if they are symptomatic.

Separately, DoD issued new guidance on screening and testing of employees to comply with updated CDC standards.

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