Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to use cloth face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Defense Department (DoD) is directing military personnel, DoD civilian employees, their family members, and contractors to cover their faces in public settings.

“Effective immediately, to the extent practical, all individuals on DoD property, installations, and facilities will wear cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain six feet of social distance in public areas or work centers (this does not include in a Service member’s or Service family member’s personal residence on a military installation),” DoD said in a memo.

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DoD acknowledged that lowering or removing face coverings to verify identification may be required at security checkpoints and that additional exceptions to removing face coverings could be “approved by local commanders or supervisors and then submitted up the chain of command for situational awareness.”

DoD also offered that medical personal protective equipment (PPE) – like surgical masks or respirators – would not be issued to personnel, and that PPE would be reserved for appropriate personnel. Instead, DoD members are encouraged to use household items, such as T-shirts or other cloths, to cover the nose and mouth area.

“DoD supports, and will continue to implement, all measures necessary to mitigate risks to the spread of the disease, consistent with the Department’s priorities to protect our people, safeguard our national security capabilities, and support the government’s whole-of-nation response,” DoD said.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.