By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Military exercises drive up Covid cases among servicemembers
Updated: Aug 5, 2021
The arrival of military personnel participating in the ongoing military exercises on Guam is causing a surge in Covid-19 positive cases among service members, the Joint Region Marianas said Wednesday.
As of this week, military bases on Guam have reported 69 Covid-19 positive cases, 56 are uniformed, according to Katherine Koenig, spokesperson for JRM.
The increase in Covid cases "was concurrent with an increased operational tempo and influx of temporarily assigned personnel," JRM said in a press release.
Guam is currently hosting hundreds of airmen and sailors, who are taking part in Defender 2021 and Pacific Iron 2021. The Covid-stricken HMS Queen Elizabeth is also scheduled to port in Guam, after completing its training exercise with the Indian Navy.
JRM said it has updated its mask policy aboard all military installations in Guam.
"In order to preserve force health protection and community public health,
all personnel on DoD installations are required to wear a face-covering in
congregate settings, whether indoor or outdoor and regardless of vaccination
or immunization," JRM said.
JRM said the mask mandate applies to all military personnel stationed, assigned to temporary duty, or assigned to a visiting unit temporarily located on Guam,
and to civilian dependents, contractors, and DoD civilian employees and
visitors to DoD installations on Guam.
DoD personnel on temporary duty in Guam, or assigned to units visiting
Guam, are restricted from leaving DoD installations or their assigned place
of lodging except as required to conduct their official duties or for
transit between DoD facilities and their assigned place of lodging.
If their unit or higher authority has not implemented additional guidance,
visiting DoD personnel shall be exempt from the restriction on installation if
they meet the following requirements:
. Are at least 14 days post-completion of Covid-19 vaccination(s) with
a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-authorized vaccine and meet the
requirements for documentation prescribed by cognizant public health
. Are fully recovered from a laboratory-confirmed Covid=-19 infection
within the previous 90 days and are asymptomatic; or
. Have completed any required period of quarantine.
Mask wearing is not required during physical training activities where
appropriate Covid-19 mitigation measures can be implemented.