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Public Health Directive 8



SUBJECT: Public Health Directive #8 (view original memo here)

1. The infection spike experienced after the holiday season has declined and Operation Fight Back is reaching a steady-state battle rhythm. The new vaccine is our weapon of choice in this battle, forged from medical technology 30 years in development. Vaccination PODs have been a key logistical enabler in protecting the health and safety of all members and preserving mission readiness. However, it will still take several months before the entire community is vaccinated and we can safely put this pandemic behind us. The longer it takes to vaccinate our population, the more likely we may face a virus mutation able to defeat our current defenses. Some have predicted infection rates may spike again toward the end of March, so our top Public Health priority is to maximize immunizations rates across Team Vandenberg as quickly as possible. Every member of this installation plays a role in meeting this critical Public Health goal.

2. The regional medical healthcare system is reaching greater stability. All of the key metrics (Daily New Cases, Infection Rate, Positivity Rate, and ICU Capacity Used) are trending down. You can track these metrics, as well as vaccination rates, at https://covidactnow.org/us/california-ca/?s=1602544 (recommend Chrome browser). As always, personnel should use discretion when engaging in high-risk activities.

3. We have issued Public Health Directives since the start of the pandemic to reduce the spread of coronavirus transmission, safeguard the lives of personnel and their families, and preserve mission readiness. We continue to employ a rigorous medical and legal review process to ensure base policies remain relevant and lawful. Accordingly, some restrictions need not apply to those individuals who have chosen to receive the vaccine. Exceptions for fully vaccinated individuals identified in this directive have been found to be medically permissible, legally sufficient, and consistent with the current directives of higher authorities. For the purposes of this directive, an individual is deemed fully vaccinated two weeks after completing an FDA-approved vaccine treatment (including vaccines authorized for emergency use). For the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, this means two shots plus two weeks (2+2).

4. This Directive is effective immediately, and applies to all military members of Vandenberg AFB regardless of location, as well as civilian employees, dependents, retirees, contractors, and any persons on the installation for any reason. Public Health Directives 1-7 are hereby rescinded and replaced by this Directive. The following measures are mandatory:

a. Physical Distancing and Limited Gatherings. All individuals are to maintain a minimum of 6 feet distance from other individuals and utilize face coverings, whether indoors or outdoors. Gatherings will be limited based on the nature and location of the event. Fully vaccinated individuals are not to be counted against any gathering limitations.

i.  Unofficial Gatherings (private) are limited to 25 people indoors or 50 people outdoors.

ii.  Official Gatherings (unit-sponsored) are limited to 100 people (whether indoors or outdoors). However, indoor events should include formalized processes (such as designated seating) to assist with physical distancing, and minimizing close contacts. Waivers may be granted on a case-by-case basis after consultation with Public Health and approval by the Installation Commander.

iii.  Gatherings at Key Facilities (Chapel, AAFES, DECA, PCC, Fitness Center, other FSS facilities) have established procedures with capacities previously coordinated by Public Health. No change is directed at this time.

b. Report Adverse Health Status. Individuals (including fully vaccinated individuals) experiencing adverse health conditions must contact their leadership teams and seek medical guidance from their primary care provider before entering the work center. Failure to comply may increase the risk of coronavirus transmission to others on the installation.

i.  Any individual experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (fever of greater than 100.4 °F, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell) must report symptoms to the MCC at 805-606-9566, after seeking care from their primary care provider.

ii.  Symptomatic individuals who have been tested for COVID-19 should quarantine pending results and release by a competent medical authority.

iii.  Any individual who has tested positive for COVID-19, at any location, must contact the MCC at 805-606-9566 to facilitate Public Health’s effort to track the virus.

c. Masks. Consistent with higher authority directives, all personnel (including fully vaccinated individuals) on Vandenberg AFB shall wear a cloth face covering or face mask that covers the nose and mouth at all times. The waiver authority for Vandenberg Air Force Base has been delegated to the Installation Commander. However, Sq/CCs and Directors are hereby granted the authority to determine and adjudicate how the following exceptions apply to their units and work centers:

i.  when an individual is alone in an office with floor-to-ceiling walls with a closed door;

ii.  for brief periods of time when eating and drinking while maintaining distancing in accordance with CDC guidelines and instructions from commanders and supervisors;

iii.  when the mask is required to be lowered briefly for identification or security purposes;

iv.  when necessary to reasonably accommodate an individual with a disability;

v.  when necessary as part of an approved religious accommodation;

vi.  when underlying health conditions that prohibit the wear of a face covering exist and the individual is in possession of medical documentation from a health care provider outlining such a condition and the restrictions the condition places on wear of a face covering;

vii.  when outdoors and proper physical distancing (at least 6 feet from any person that does not live in your household) can be maintained;

viii.  when actively participating in physical fitness activities either indoors or outdoors and either proper physical distancing is maintained or additional measures are implemented to mitigate transmission;

ix.  when an individual is alone in a vehicle or is sharing the vehicle only with household members;

x.  when use substantively interferes with the proper wear and use of personal protective equipment necessary for the accomplishment of one's military duties;

xi.  when working in Arc Flash, welding, or other NFPA or OSHA-directed activities that dictate specific safety gear to prevent melting or burns;

xii.  when personnel are in primary aircrew positions during critical phases of flight or emergencies; or when using flight crew oxygen equipment;

xiii.  when clear or unrestricted visualization of verbal communication are essential to operations;

xiv.  when mask wear could impede the clarity of mission-critical communications (including, but not limited to air traffic control, on-console space or launch operations, emergency response operations);

xv.  when mask wear could impede the safety of member’s actively involved in mission-required tasks;

xvi.  children under two years of age.

d. Travel. Please use discretion when making travel arrangements. Travel-related infections remain the most prevalent threat vector for the virus among the non-vaccinated population.

i.  Unofficial Travel (leave and pass). The local area for Vandenberg AFB is defined as San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County. However, effective immediately, fully vaccinated individuals are exempt from this local area definition and, therefore, may resume leave and pass processes consistent with unit policies and AFI 36-3003, Military Leave Program. The Secretary of Defense STOP MOVEMENT guidance directs all military members must have Sq/CC or Director approval to travel outside the local area, whether on leave or on pass. Sq/CCs and Directors have the authority to determine when their approval is required for unofficial travel for fully vaccinated personnel. While civilian travel cannot be restricted, civilian employees should report to their supervisor and the MCC if they believe they were exposed toCOVID-19 during their travel.

ii.  Official Travel (PCS/TDY). To determine if an installation is open for official travel, visit: https://www.defense.gov/explore/spotlight/coronavirus/. Official travel from or to an installation that is not open for official travel will still require an exception to policy in accordance with the Secretary of Defense guidance.

e.Telework. Commanders should continue to grant telework privileges based on mission requirements and work center physical distancing options. Commanders are encouraged to implement rotations to minimize the chance that a single person becoming sick could cause significant mission impact. Vulnerable civilian employees (as defined by current CDC guidelines) may utilize the reasonable accommodation process with assistance from Employee/Management Relations (805-606-5847).

f. Close Contacts. Minimize close contact with others. The CDC currently defines close contact as being within 6 feet of someone with the virus for a cumulative total of 15 minutes (or more) over a 24-hourperiod. Consistent with CDC guidance, Public Health is not to issue mandatory quarantine orders to fully vaccinated individuals based solely on close contact status or travel.

g. Follow Public Health Orders. Strict adherence to measures directed by the PHEO is mandatory.

i.  If ordered or directed into quarantined, or isolated status, remain exclusively at your residence or other appropriate domicile, follow any related instructions, self-monitor, report worsening symptoms to your primary care provider, and call 9-1-1 for any medical emergencies.

ii.  Sq/CCs and Directors have the authority to direct individuals to be tested before returning to the work center. Asymptomatic individuals will be automatically “cleared” to return to duty assuming test results do not indicate COVID POSITIVE. However, even “cleared” individuals should proceed with caution as test results depend on viral loads and incubation periods that vary. Leadership teams are encouraged to contact the Medical Control Center (MCC) at 805-606-9566 or the appointment line at 805-606-CARE (-2273) to facilitate testing, or to speak with Public Health for additional guidance. Sq/CCs and Directors may contact 30 FSS/FSCA at 805-606-5847 for advice where civilians are concerned.

iii.  Dormitory residents are subject to the policy and procedures outlined in the VAFB Dorm Residents Policy COVID-19 memorandum.

5. This memorandum is directive and will terminate when directed by the 30 SW/CC, in consultation with the PHEO. Any person who refuses to comply or otherwise violates its provisions may be detained and turned over to military or civilian authorities. For military members, violations are punishable under the UCMJ. For all personnel, violations are punishable under the United States Code (USC), to include 18 USC 1001, 18 USC 1382, and 42 USC271. Additionally, any personnel who fail to adhere to this memorandum or subsequent orders may be subject to debarment (denied access to the installation).