Joint Base Andrews and other installations in the D.C. area went to HPCON Charlie earlier in the week in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The move came as the Pentagon also reported what it believes is the first death of a DoD worker who tested positive for the virus.
HPCON Charlie indicates substantial risk and sustained community transmission of the COVID-19 disease. The highest level is HPCON Delta, which indicates severe risk and widespread community transmission.
Contingency response forces will go to HPCON Delta, though a list of all the units that includes was not immediately available, Army headquarters officials said over the telephone. The 82nd Airborne Division, for instance, maintains elements ready to deploy within 18 hours of notification to hotspots around the world.
“To further protect our contingency response forces from exposure to the COVID-19 virus, we are taking extra precautions and placing them under an HPCON Delta status,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville said in a statement. “We are committed to maintaining the Army’s fighting strength by reducing the spread of this virus while simultaneously maintaining dynamic force employment capabilities.”
The Army hospitals will likely be sent first to New York City and Seattle, the defense secretary said.
HPCON Charlie will require installations to limit all access to essential personnel only and will limit the numbers of access points, Army headquarters said in a press release. All unit personnel are expected to follow all social distancing guidance to continue protecting our force, they added.
HPCON Delta requires soldiers to remain at home for extended periods of time, and restricts movement in the surrounding community.
“As personnel from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army North, U.S. Army Medical Command the Army National Guard support other national agencies in their efforts to contain COVID-19, the Army’s immediate contingency response force will continue to stand ready to deploy should the need arise,” Army officials said in a statement.