Navy Calls for Face Masks for All Military and Civilians on Base

April 7, 2020 12:52 PM
Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Luke Cunningham, from San Antonio, performs a fit test for a respirator mask aboard the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) on April 3, 2020. US Navy Photo

The Navy is requesting anyone – active duty, reservist, dependent or retiree – visiting a military installation to wear a face mask to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The new Navy policy, detailed in a recent NAVADMIN, follows mask recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Using cloth face coverings in public settings is expected to help the public stop the spread of COVID-19.

Researchers think the virus is spread mainly from person-to-person, and recent studies indicate people who are infected but have yet to display any symptoms are also likely spreading COVID-19, according to the latest CDC guidance. Cloth masks are intended to help prevent anyone who has Coronavirus from spreading the virus.

“To the extent practical, all individuals on DoD property, installations and facilities are required to wear cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain six-feet of social distance,” Vice Adm. Phillip Sawyer, deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans and strategy, N3N5, states in the NAVADMIN.

The use of face masks is not just limited to workspaces but also visits to medical treatment facilities, Navy Exchanges and commissaries. Many on-base activities have been shuttered or moved to being conducted entirely online or by telephone during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there are still several instances where individuals will find it challenging to maintain the recommended six-foot social distance.

Sawyer, in the NAVADMIN, recognizes the current scarcity of face masks means the Navy has to be flexible with its uniform standards. Navy personnel and all others visiting installations are asked to consider using homemade face coverings if official or manufactured face masks are unavailable.

“Until official uniform face coverings are produced and implemented, personnel are authorized to wear medical or construction type masks, or other cloth covering such as bandanas, scarfs, etc. When in doubt, priority will be compliance with the CDC guidance for function over appearance or preferred date of implementation,” the NAVADMIN states. “Once available, sailors will be able to procure and wear official Navy uniform face coverings.”

Face covering tips from the CDC.

This link from the CDC includes details about the use of face coverings and patterns to use when making face coverings at home.

Single-use face masks should be discarded after each use. Wash hands before putting the face mask on. When removing the mask, avoid touching the front of the mask.

Homemade cloth face coverings are not N-95 respirators. Cloth face coverings should be laundered d in a washing machine after each use. Children younger than two years of age, anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated or can’t remove the mask without assistance should not use cloth face coverings.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams has a video detailing how to make a face-covering using two rubber bands and fabric such as an old hand towel, bandana or t-shirt.

Ben Werner

Ben Werner

Ben Werner is a staff writer for USNI News. He has worked as a freelance writer in Busan, South Korea, and as a staff writer covering education and publicly traded companies for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., Savannah Morning News in Savannah, Ga., and Baltimore Business Journal. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree from New York University.

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