Mask mandate off after new DOD guidance Published March 3, 2022 By Christopher Warner 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, in accordance with new Department of Defense guidance, removed the installation mask mandate as surrounding communities meet new health thresholds for COVID-19. The base also transitioned to Health Protection Condition Bravo+ on Feb. 25 as local threat levels continued to greatly improve. Col. Patrick Miller, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander, addressed the base in an email outlining the new DOD and Air Force guidance. “Today, we enter a new phase of the pandemic as we adjust fire based on lessons learned over the past two years,” he said. “As we focus more on severity of disease instead of volume, I ask that we don’t let our guard down and understand that with flexibly comes responsibility. We must continue to remain vigilant.” Masking and screening tests According to the new guidance, which can be viewed at www.defense.gov/News, there are now three categories for masking and testing based off the installation’s community health levels in surrounding counties, as determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, WPAFB’s surrounding communities are at a medium or yellow COVID-19 level. The following levels and corresponding guidance are: Low (green) – no mask wear required Indoor mask-wearing not required for DOD personnel or visitors COVID-19 screening test program is not required Get tested if you have symptoms Stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines Patients, visitors and staff are still required to wear masks in Wright-Patterson Medical Center until otherwise directed Medium (yellow) – no mask wear required Public Health and medical providers continue to recommend mask wear for high-risk individuals and in settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained Indoor mask-wearing not required for DOD personnel or visitors COVID-19 screening test program is required Patients, visitors and staff are still required to wear masks in Wright-Patterson Medical Center until otherwise directed. If at high risk for severe illness, talk to health care provider about the need to wear a mask and take other precautions Get tested if you have symptoms Stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines High (orange) – indoor mask wear required Indoor mask-wearing is required for all service members, DOD civilians, on-site contractors and visitors — regardless of vaccination status Wear a mask in public COVID-19 screening test program is required Get tested if you have symptoms Additional precautions may be needed for people at high risk of severe illness Stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines Base public health guidance People may choose to mask at any time. Individuals with symptoms, a positive test or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask Regardless of the CDC’s COVID-19 Community Levels, DOD force health-protection conditions for workplace access and mask-wearing for personnel with symptoms, restrictions covering a positive test or exposure to someone with COVID-19 remains in effect When mask-wearing is required, any previously approved exceptions remain in effect All other force health-protection measures remain in effect, including guidance regarding workplace access, occupancy levels, physical distancing, travel and meetings Workplace mask mandates must be followed when commanders and supervisors determine they are required to protect health and safety in the workplace Miller emphasized that the pandemic is not over, and Team Wright-Patt needs to “stay vigilant and continue doing the things we’ve been doing to get to this point. I’m looking forward to seeing your smiling faces around the base." Preventive measures such as getting vaccinated, physical distancing, maintaining social connectedness, practicing good hygiene, screening and testing for unvaccinated personnel (while at Medium or High county levels), and staying home and getting tested when not feeling well should still be followed, he added. Return to HPCON Bravo+ The installation remains in a public health emergency through March 21, with a continued emphasis on optimizing telework to meet mission requirements and provide a safe, healthy environment for the team. Determining factors for setting the HPCON level include rates for new COVID-19 cases, percent positivity and hospital capacity, both on and off WPAFB, which all have dropped considerably, Miller said. As he takes these factors under consideration, the safety and security of those on base and within surrounding areas remain the highest priority. Base facility operations According to the base commander: Services and operations will remain the same with increased capacity. Fitness assessments will continue. Work center occupancy rates can increase to “no more than 40%,” in accordance with Office of the Secretary of Defense guidance from the previous 25% mark, as prescribed under HPCON Charlie. Mission owners still have flexibility to go above the occupancy threshold as operational requirements dictate. Base residents and employees could see increased traffic and should account for this while navigating gates and access points. WPAFB will transition into “green” status for official travel purposes. To track the base’s mask status, visit the Wright-Patterson AFB homepage at www.wpafb.af.mil. Up top, you will see a colored banner showing the status. It will only change if the status changes. All WPAFB buildings will have a front-door sign that reflects the mask-status color. If you have follow-up questions or concerns, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 937-522-3252.