Military installations in the Hawaiian Islands are now at Health Condition Charlie due to a jump in the number of COVID-19 cases.
“They have a situation that we don’t have in the sense that they’re able to contain and manage their personnel frankly a lot better than we do in some cases,” said Dr. Bruce Anderson, state Department of Health director.
The Department of Defense has a protocol for public health emergencies called health protection conditions (HPCON) risk levels. These HPCONs are used by military leaders and public personnel to guide their actions in response to health threats within a local community.
- HPCON 0 or “Routine” is where personnel maintain their everyday activities to stop the spread of germs. Some measures include avoiding close contact with individuals who are sick; handwashing; covering coughs and sneezes; and practicing proper nutrition and exercise.
- HPCON 1 or “Alpha” means that there is a limited health alert. Individuals clean and disinfect frequently and sick people will call medical providers before going to a clinic or hospital. Other routines will be maintained.
- HPCON B or “Bravo” is called when a community experiences an increase in community transmissions. “Bravo” means social distancing and avoiding all unnecessary contact and travel; people should prepare for restrictions on travel and public gatherings and should make sure they have a two-week supply of food, medications, and other items needed to survive a lockdown. Military personnel should observe local movement restrictions and comply with medical orders for self-quarantine.
- HPCON C or “Charlie” means that an area is experiencing sustained community transmission. People can expect school cancellations, as well as community activities, and travel. Shelter-in-place orders will necessitate remote work-from-home stations.
- HPCON D or “Delta” means widespread community transmission and people are expected to shelter in place for extended periods of time. They are also expected to follow all directives from local, state, and federal officials.
Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam and the Pacific Command Headquarters at Camp Smith are among the military sites elevating the warning level even though local health officials have not seen an outbreak associated with military installations.
Regardless of the HPCON level, the DoD advises members to always follow the guidance from your installation and local public health agencies.