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Questions arise as military bases prepare for potential increase in Health Protection Conditions

The military has Health Protection Conditions, which include protocols for public health emergencies. The rules affect how bases operate.

WASHINGTON — If you live or work on a military base, the questions that stem from a "stay-at-home" order can be more complicated. There, you balance state and local orders, along with military protection levels.

The military has what's known as HPCON or Health Protection Conditions. They go from 0 to DELTA.

Think of it as a TSA threat level. The colors tell the story: green is good and red is the highest or most strict. The conditions go in alphabetical order. Right now, military bases in the DMV are at Charlie, which is the stage before the most restrictions. That could change.

This post on the Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling Facebook page is causing some confusion and concerns. 

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It reads: "In order to prepare for a potential shift to HPCON DELTA, please be aware that there may be a requirement to restrict base access to only residents and personnel vital to supporting missions." 

It led to many questions.

One person responded: "Are we still able to walk our walk dogs, ride bikes, etc. in base?

Another asked: "If we work off base what do we need to have with us to prove we live on base when traveling to/from work?"

And another person wanted to know: "Is there any insight on when this is happening?"

The JBAB page responded: "We will give you as much advance notice as we can."

The repeated answer was: "We don't know what all the modifications for Delta would look like now, but we would put out any information you needed to know."

Military spouses on some other local bases shared their concerns about the potential move, too. They wanted to know if they will be able to go to medical appointments and shop at the base commissaries.

According to the Department of Defense, when the HPCON is Delta the "area is experiencing severe, widespread community transmission." It is similar to the stay-at-home orders we're seeing across the area.

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The Defense Department is taking action around the globe to keep our service members, civilian employees, contractors and their families safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, all while supporting our continued mission. During many of the public briefings that have been held about the crisis, DOD leaders have often mentioned the acronym "HPCON."

You'd follow all the current instructions, and then some. You should "expect to remain at home for extended periods of time as movement in the community may be restricted; at-home isolation or quarantine may be directed."

This may sound familiar, because it's similar to orders civilians are following: basically, stay at home unless it's essential to go out.

WUSA9 asked the JBAB Public Affairs Office for more information about why they would post this information without more details and what they want the community to know.

"Installations are preparing for all contingencies and that was the focus of this post," a spokesperson responded.

So, here's perhaps the most important piece of information from DOD to keep in mind if you're concerned about what's to come. All of these levels "are enacted to protect the health and safety of you and your family."

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