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DOD Updates Guidance, Will Require Members To Mask Up In ‘Substantial Or High’ Areas Of Transmission

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images)

Nicole Silverio Contributor
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The Department of Defense (DOD) announced Wednesday that fully vaccinated individuals are required to wear masks indoors in “substantial or high” areas of transmission.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidelines July 27 that fully immunized people should wear a mask inside indoor public facilities in places with high transmission rates in order to protect themselves from the Delta variant.

To follow these guidelines, Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Jamal Brown ordered that the DOD comply with the CDC’s recommendations in a press release titled “Defense Memorandum for Updated Mask Guidelines for All DOD Installations and Other Facilities.”

“Deputy Secretary Hicks has directed that all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in indoor settings at Department of Defense installations and facilities in areas of substantial or high transmission, as defined by the CDC, to protect against rising COVID-19 cases,” the release said. “Today’s announcement applies to all service members, federal personnel, contractors, and visitors when indoors at all properties owned by the Department in those areas, in accordance with updated CDC guidelines.”

The release said the department will update the DOD’s Force Health Protection guidance to follow the new guidelines. (RELATED: CDC Is Considering Mask Mandates For Fully Vaccinated Americans, Fauci Says)

The updated guidelines also require that unvaccinated people follow social distancing rules and for installations and worksites to post signs and information on their websites instructing the public of their mask requirements. The DOD said they will provide a mask for anyone who is not carrying one upon arrival.

The delta variant has accounted for 83% of reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. 49% of the total U.S. population is currently fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.

Since the rise in COVID-19 cases, several areas across the U.S. has reissued mask mandates regardless of vaccination status. St. Louis, Missouri, reissued the rule that individuals ages 5 or older are required to wear a mask in public. Public schools in Atlanta, Georgia, are requiring masks for students and teachers.

Several governors, including Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds  banned mask mandates in their states’ schools.