By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason Amadi, Naval District Washington Public Affairs and Patrick Gordon, NAS Patuxent River Public Affairs
WASHINGTON – NAS Patuxent River and other installations in Naval District Washington (NDW) transitioned from Health Protection Condition (HPCON) Charlie to Bravo June 29.
HPCONs are protocols for public health emergencies, such as a pandemic. Commanders review and update these HPCONs based on risk levels within a local community and in cooperation with local, state or host nation guidance. Military leaders and public health personnel use them to guide actions taken in response to a health threat.
NDW changed the HPCON as a result of declining COVID-19 transmission in the National Capital Region. In addition to NAS Patuxent River, NDW installations include Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, and Naval Support Activities Annapolis, Bethesda, South Potomac and Washington.
“As always, my primary focus is providing a healthy and safe environment for our service members, their families, our civilian workforce, and everyone within our military communities,” said Rear Adm. Carl Lahti, Commandant of Naval District Washington. “The decision to move to HPCON Bravo is based on local medical conditions as tracked and reported by county and state departments of health, the advice of the NDW public health emergency officer, and recommendations from our installation commanding officers.”
At NAS Patuxent River, reports of COVID positive cases among personnel working aboard the installation has remained low, and conditions in the surrounding counties have also continued to improve.
“Thanks to everyone’s adherence to the CDC guidelines and DoD’s Force Health Protection Guidance across the base, we’ve been able to protect the force and provide mission assurance by keeping COVID-positive cases at Pax River very low and stable,” said Capt. Christopher Cox, NAS Patuxent River commanding officer. “Our low and stable numbers, combined with the continued downward trend of COVID19 symptoms and cases in the surrounding counties, is what has allowed us to start a phased reopening of previously curtailed base operating services and move into to stage 2 of the CNIC reset plan. I think we can remain on course to continue to re-open additional base services and programs as long as everyone continues their individual efforts to wash or sanitize their hands more frequently, wear a mask, and maintain six feet of separation as much as possible.”
HPCON Bravo implementation will vary at each installation in the region, however, personnel across all NDW installations should continue to adhere to physical distancing protocols and wear face coverings when unable. Personnel should continue to avoid unnecessary contact and stay home when sick.
Pax River has begun executing plans to reopen certain services, such as select MWR programs, under HPCON Bravo. As new standard operating procedures are trained to more programs will be able to open, though likely with modified hours and services. Patrons are reminded to follow NAS Patuxent River’s social media feeds on Facebook (www.facebook.com/NASPaxRiver ) and Twitter (@NASPaxRiverPAO), as well as the NAS Pax River COVID-19 Information page at https://www.cnic.navy.mil/regions/ndw/installations/nas_patuxent_river/ffr/nas-patuxent-river-covid-19-information.html for updates on available base services and hours.
The Navy continues to remind service members, the civilian workforce and their families that COVID-19 has not been eradicated and advises personnel to stay vigilant in execution of force health protection guidance in order to mitigate its spread.
“It’s Important to remember that although conditions are improving, we must still all do our part to ensure the health of our force; COVID19 has not been eradicated, and there is still no vaccine,” said Cox. “The three biggest things our people can do is keep your mask on, keep your distance, and keep washing your hands.