DOD: Most Troops, Families Must Quarantine Before Traveling Overseas

Most of the Defense Department’s uniformed and civilian personnel and their families muse complete a risk assessment and self-quarantine for 14 days before moving overseas to curb the spread of the coronavirus, according to a new Pentagon memo.

Matthew P. Donovan, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, released the latest health protection guidance for the armed forces Aug. 6.

Before traveling, service members, civilians, and family members need to determine how likely it is that they are sick or have come into contact with someone with COVID-19. That entails reporting any signs or symptoms of the virus in themselves, if they have been close to someone who has tested positive for or has symptoms of the virus, and that they know what to do if they become ill.

Family members will be reimbursed for their travel only if they certify that they completed the COVID-19 risk assessment, according to the memo.

DOD employees and their families must remain at home or another “appropriate domicile” for two weeks before moving to another country. They should limit close contact with others while watching for a fever or other COVID-19 symptoms like cough, shortness of breath, or fatigue.

The Pentagon is requiring the movement restriction before travel unless the destination country directs newcomers to quarantine upon arrival. In that case, travelers need to isolate themselves when they get to the host nation instead, according to the memo.

Those returning to the United States from a country designated as high-risk by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must also quarantine for 14 days once they get home. Most countries across the globe count as high-risk places. If coming from a lower-risk nation, the person should monitor themselves for symptoms but does not need to isolate.

Donovan’s memo states that service members can travel freely within the United States to installations listed as “green” in earlier guidance. Officials had lifted travel restrictions at 95 of 231 installations as of Aug. 3.

As of the morning of Aug. 7, DOD reported more than 43,600 COVID-19 cases, 1,000 hospitalizations, and 22,200 recoveries among military, civilian, and contractor personnel and their dependents. Seventy-two of them have died.