By Steve Ranson, Nevada News Group
Service members and civilians are required to wear face coverings effective Monday at all Department of Defense installations including those in Northern Nevada and Mono County, Calif., to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper issued a military-wide memo April 5 and said individuals should make their own face coverings.
This new policy will affect Naval Air Station Fallon and the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center, the Nevada National Guard in Carson City, Fallon and Reno, the Navy-Marine Reserve Center at Stead, the Hawthorne Army Depot and the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center northwest of Bridgeport and the commissary and exchange at Coleville.
“Effective immediately, to the extent practical, all individuals on DoD property, installations, and facilities will wear cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain 6 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),” according to the memo.
This includes all military personnel, DoD civilian employees and contractors, family members and all other individuals on DoD property, installations and facilities. At NAS Fallon, this includes the commissary, Navy Exchange and Child Development Center.
“Exceptions to this requirement may be approved by local commanders or supervisors, and then submitted up the chain of command for situational awareness,” the memo stated. “Security checkpoints may require the lowering of face covers to verify identification.”
The DoD said individuals may fashion their face coverings from common materials such as clean T-shirts or other cleans cloths or from household items. The covering must cover the nose and mouth areas.
“Medical personal protective equipment such as N95 respirators or surgical masks will not be issued for this purpose as these will be reserved for the appropriate personnel,” the memo stated.
Additional requirements from the Navy call for the face coverings to be conservative in nature, not offensive and acceptable to wear with uniforms. They must also fit snuggly but comfortable against the face.
The Nevada National Guard has added the following requirements for uniformed personnel:
• Coverings should be fabricated with solid colors, not of bright, florescent colors (i.e., pink, yellow, orange).
• Avoid unusual or outlandish designs (i.e., polka dots, paisley, flag patterns.)
• Inappropriate graphics or wording on a covering will not be allowed.
• Coverings can be handmade or purchased. Fabric ideally matches current or past military uniforms. Fabric acquired from current or past T-shirts including white undershirts is acceptable.
The move to require face coverings on DoD installations comes two days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a national recommendation that citizens wear nonmedical face coverings while in public.
The DoD said it will continue to implement all measures that are needed to mitigate risks associated with the pandemic.