Pentagon lifts travel restrictions for all but 3 states despite COVID-19 uptick

Elizabeth Howe
June 30, 2020 - 10:15 am
COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

DVIDS

The Pentagon has lifted travel restrictions for Department of Defense personnel in all but three states despite a recent uptick in new COVID-19 cases. 

DoD released an updated list Monday night of "green locations" -- states that can lift the travel restrictions that were put in place in March to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Only Florida, California and Michigan are missing from the most recently released list -- all 47 other states and the District of Columbia have been deemed safe for DoD travel. 

These 47 states and D.C. have met the criteria for travel restrictions to be lifted, according to the Pentagon, such as removal of shelter-in-place orders or other travel restrictions, a 14-day downward trajectory of flu-like and COVID-19-like symptoms, and a 14-day downward trajectory of new COVID-19 cases or positive tests. However, COVID-19 cases across the country as well as within the Department of Defense are spiking. 

The first list of "green light" locations was released on June 8 and included 37 states along with D.C. DoD personnel in these states were able to travel away from their home installations for the first time since March. The following week, DoD reported close to 1,800 new COVID-19 cases -- double the previous week's new cases. 

DoD lifts travel restrictions for installations in 38 states and DC despite spike in cases

Ahmad al-Jaber Air Base in Kuwait recently reported a cluster of about 30 COVID-19 cases, Military.com previously reported. Fort Benning reported an outbreak of 142 cases -- a 22 percent positive rate within two of its training battalions -- at the beginning of June. The Army declined to categorize this infection incident as an outbreak. 

8 days after quarantine and testing negative, 142 Fort Benning soldiers test positive for COVID-19

Despite that uptick, DoD added another ten states to the "green light" list on Monday: Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin. The list also includes eight host nations: Bahrain, Belgium, Germany, Guam, Japan, Puerto Rico, South Korea and the United Kingdom. 

The lifting of travel restrictions at these locations is conditional -- if conditions within these states change to the degree that criteria are no longer being met, those states can be removed from the list of green-lighted locations. Thus far, the Pentagon has not done so with any of the locations that were given the green light on June 8.

However, while the Pentagon may designate a state as a "green light" location commanders at the installation level are assessing specific installations, facilities and locations before removing travel restrictions. If installations do not meet the criteria mandated at the state level, commanders have the authority to either lift or maintain travel restrictions.

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Reach Elizabeth Howe on Twitter @ECBHowe.

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