Pentagon increases health measures in building as Guard response tops 9,000

The Pentagon increased its health-related lockdown measures to its second-highest level on Tuesday, prompting the closure of eight entrances to the building.

The announcement, made Monday, came after a Defense Department contractor died while infected with COVID-19, a strain of coronavirus.

The Pentagon is now under health protection measure Charlie, indicating a high morbidity epidemic or contamination. Employees are advised to conducted substantial social distancing, shelter-in-place indoors or use medical countermeasures if directed.

The Pentagon is closing the following entrances:

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  • Metro Entrance Facility
  • Visitor Screening Facility (official visitors will be processed through Corridor 2 Entrance)
  • Corridor 5 Entrance
  • Library & Conference Center
  • Pentagon Athletic Center Entrance
  • Mall Vehicle Annex Access Point
  • Memorial Gate Vehicle Access Point
  • River Pedestrian Booth (Press/Overflow Parking)

Ten entrances will remain open:

  • Mall Entrance (open 24/7)
  • Corridor 2 Entrance (open 24/7)
  • Corridor 8 Entrance (open 6:00 am – 8:00 pm)
  • River Entrance (open 05:00 am – 8:00 pm, Monday – Friday)
  • River Vehicle Access Point (Open 24/7)
  • North Rotary and Fern Vehicle Access Point (open 24/7)
  • A&E Drive Vehicle Access Point (open 24/7)
  • Boundary Channel Drive Vehicle Access Point (open 24/7)
  • Heating & Refrigeration Plant Vehicle Access Point (open 24/7)
  • North Village Vehicle Access Point (open 6:00 am – 2:00 pm Monday – Friday)

The Mark Center, all posts, vehicle access points and North Garage entrances will remain open during their regular times.

Yesterday Defense Secretary Mark Esper said DoD may take people’s temperatures before they enter the building.

“DoD remains committed to protecting our people, maintaining mission readiness, and supporting the whole-of-government effort response to COVID-19,” a Tuesday DoD release states. “We ask our people to take actions to protect themselves and those around them by employing protective measures, including practicing good hand washing, social distancing, and taking appropriate actions if feeling sick now. These can dramatically decrease the risk of infection and slow COVID-19’s spread.”

Wesley Hallman, senior vice president of strategy and policy at the National Defense Industrial Association said, “The building restrictions are one more level of complexity in the important partnering that goes on between the Pentagon and industry.”

In a statement to Federal News Network, he added, “We are working in conjunction with other industry associations to get contractor concerns to the DoD so they know what actions to take to keep these contractors at work.”

The Armed Forces Retirement Homes are at HPCON Delta, which includes mass decontamination and even stricter access measures.

To date, there have been 340 DoD-related coronavirus infections. A total of 174 are military. There were 41 new military infections in the past day alone.

National Guard

As the Pentagon is taking extra precautions, more National Guard members are deploying in all 50 states, three territories and DC.

More than 9,000 Guard men and women are delivering food, manning call centers, supporting local emergency management agencies, providing equipment training, disinfecting public spaces and providing tests.

National Guard Bureau Chief Gen. Joseph Lengyel likened the event to 54 different hurricanes happening at once.

Individual state responses include more than 1,100 Florida National Guard members helping with test sites.

“Today the Florida National Guard will conduct rehearsals and operational checks in Orange county with a projected opening date for Wednesday,” according to Lt. Tahisha Coleman, a Florida National Guard spokeswoman. “Development of an additional community-based testing site at the Marlins Stadium in Miami is slated to be initiated in coming days.”

There are more than 2,000 Guard members deployed in New York.

“They are supporting the administration and setup of FEMA field hospitals in support of the State Department of Health and New York City officials at the Javits Center in Manhattan,” according to Col. Richard Goldenberg, a New York National Guard spokesman. “Soldiers are assisting with the reception and setup of the infrastructure in the convention center’s 1.8 million square feet of space.”