PATUXENT RIVER, Maryland – NAS Patuxent River transitioned from Health Protection Condition (HPCON) Alpha to HPCON Bravo as of 5 p.m. July 28. NAS Patuxent River joins other installations within Naval District Washington to shift back to HPCON Bravo as a result of rising COVID cases.
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 rising 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.
At NAS Patuxent River, reports of COVID positive cases among personnel working aboard the installation have remained relatively low. But rising COVID case numbers, particularly among unvaccinated personnel, have driven the need for greater protection against the virus.
“We’ve seen a rising trend in cases over the last few weeks leading us and other Navy installations in the region to take the protective measure to move back into HPCON Bravo,” said Capt. John Brabazon NAS Patuxent River commanding officer. “After conferring with our health protection officers and leadership within Naval District Washington it was determined this was the appropriate action to protect our personnel from the continued presence of COVID and the threat from variants of the virus, such as the Delta variant.”
The Delta variant of the COVID virus has become the predominant strain in many parts of the world and according to CDC estimates, more than 83 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are now 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.
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. Unvaccinated personnel is still required to wear masks in all DoD spaces, and vaccinated personnel is advised to wear masks when in group settings. NAS Patuxent River personnel are instructed to keep their spaces at 50 percent capacity and continue to adhere to safety protocols such as frequent hand washing and social distancing.
Many programs at NAS Patuxent River that had recently reopened or expanded service under HPCON Alpha will only be minimally impacted and remain open with minor changes to service.
The Trusted Traveler Program remains in effect at NAS Patuxent River, and Gate 3 will remain open. Gate sentries will continue to check IDs using the “no-touch” method.
The Navy Exchange will remain open, with limited seating at its Food Court.
Some MWR programs are not impacted in the shift back to HPCON Bravo; the Center Stage Theater remains open with limited capacity, and outdoor activities, such as the Outdoor Pool, golf course, pavilions, and playgrounds remain open.
The NAS Patuxent River Drill Hall will remain open to all with regular access but will require reservations again beginning July 29. Reservations can be made by logging on to https://www.navymwrpaxriver.com/programs/114b99d9-a1c6-47ff-8443-3358ef8b87f1 and clicking the “Please Click Here to Register” link or contacting the Drill Hall directly at 301-757-3943. Group exercise classes will continue but be limited in size to facilitate social distancing.
“Thanks to our previous HPCON safety efforts, we’ve been below the safe capacity threshold at the Drill Hall and other MWR locations, so the shift to HPCON Bravo will not dramatically affect our services,” said Jeff Sias, NAS Patuxent River Fleet, and Family Readiness director. “We continue to follow all CDC and DoD COVID safety guidelines. If any further measures are necessary, we’ll communicate them to our patrons.”
For more information on Pax River’s MWR programs, visit https://www.navymwrpaxriver.com/covid-19-update. For more information on NAS Patuxent River, follow on social media at www.facebook.com/NASPaxRiver and https://twitter.com/NASPaxRiverPAO.