An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

COVID-19 GraphicCurrent Air Force Information:

 https://www.airforcemedicine.af.mil/COVID-19/ 

 

Overview

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is a rapidly changing situation. While supporting other government agencies’ response to the COVID-19 threat, the Department of the Air Force is responding appropriately to protect the health of the force and maintain operational readiness.


Air Force COVID-19 News

  • COVID-19 vaccine does not affect fertility, immunization experts say

    You're pregnant, or you’re breastfeeding. Should you get a COVID-19 vaccine?That’s a question on the minds of many military frontline health care workers today. The short answer is that it’s an individual’s choice, and military health experts say the vaccine is well worth considering.

  • Public Health updates COVID vaccine status

    Health professionals from the 66th Medical Squadron offered additional insight to Hanscom’s ongoing COVID-19 vaccination distribution plan during a virtual town hall here Feb. 10. Public Health officials augmented a previous town hall with questions from the community and explained recent updates to

  • DOD outlines new mask guidance

    The memorandum states that all individuals on military installations and those performing official duties on behalf of DOD from any location other than home, including outdoor shared spaces, will wear masks. Masks must be in accordance with current CDC guidelines.

  • Commander delivers latest COVID-19 update

    Col. Patrick Miller, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander, addressed the base Jan. 27 on Facebook Live concerning the latest COVID-19 situation update.

  • Med Group opens up COVID-19 vaccine offerings

    The 88th Medical Group is set to expand its offering of the COVID-19 vaccine after working through the initial phases of first responders and medical personnel at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Frequently Asked Questions

Collapse All Expand All
 Can you explain what is meant by the terms "emergency Airmen" and "mission essential missions?" Who determines what constitutes each?

In the past, there have been rather broad interpretations as to what constitutes mission essential, with people generally using the terms “mission essential,” “mission critical,” “key” and “emergency essential” interchangeably and for the most part utilizing when talking about who reports to an installation on snow days. Obviously, what we are facing now is far more complex.

In their direction on reporting to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Headquarters Air Force have consistently used the term emergency employee, meaning employees whose duties are critical to agency operations and may also be referred to as “mission essential” or “mission critical.”  As these functions enable a unit to provide vital services, exercise civil authority, maintain the safety of the general public, and sustain the industrial/economic base during disruption of normal operations, civilians performing these tasks may be required to report to the work site, even during a National Emergency. 

These employees have technical skills that are required by organizations for continued operations of our installations and the AFMC, Air Force and DoD mission.  There are no standard definitions or categories in regard to essential or emergency employee determinations; instead, they are based on the organization's unique mission requirements and/or circumstances and may even vary according to the particular nature of an exigency.  However, some examples of emergency employees who may be required to physically report for duty to ensure the continued operation of critical activities include, firefighters, health care providers, our depot employees, various civilian engineering journeyman, flight operations, critical test support and intelligence specialists.

Our installation commanders are empowered to determine what they consider mission essential and emergency employees because they have the best sight picture of what is happening on the ground and in your communities.  Balancing the accomplishment of our essential AFMC mission requirements, while also ensuring the protection of our civilian Airmen, is something we don’t take lightly.  The command is working closely with program offices and leadership teams at the installations to understand the specific mission essential priorities and are carefully weighing the risks to personnel with our need to ensure Air Force mission readiness. Each decision is carefully considered with health and safety requirements to ensure the safety of our Airmen.

 What is being done to protect emergency Airmen whose missions do not permit for social distancing or other precautions?

In general, those employees who are high risk and unable to telework have been afforded weather and safety leave.  In some instances, however, high risk personnel who are emergency employees may be required to report to the workplace. 

To protect our emergency employees, the following precautions are in place:

  • Emergency employees/Airmen have the right personal protective equipment (PPE) to accomplish the mission
  • We have elevated our cleaning and sanitization of work areas and have asked that everyone do their part in helping to clean and sanitize work spaces daily.
  • All PPE items are cleaned and sanitized after each use to mitigate virus spread.
  • We are not allowing individuals on base who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who have recently traveled to a Level 3 country, or other determined hot spot.
  • We have instructed individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19 to return home and follow CDC guidelines.
 People can be contagious without being symptomatic. How will AFMC address interaction in the workplace with those who are not showing typical symptoms but may have the virus? If an emergency Airman is exposed to the virus, what actions will the command take to ensure the virus is not passed to the members of their family?

Every Airman has the responsibility to monitor their health and to follow CDC guidelines for self-monitoring if there is a potential exposure and quarantine if there is active contraction of COVID-19. We have encouraged maximum telework across the command and are limiting the number of personnel on our installations though these policies. In accordance with CDC and Air Force guidance, those individuals who are required to work on base and cannot maintain a minimum social distance of 6 feet must wear a cloth mask to help prevent potential spread. If an emergency Airmen is exposed to the virus, they must follow Public Health and CDC guidelines for social isolation and/or quarantine and limit contact with other family members as much as possible to minimize the risk of spread.

 How does limited base access affect those who live in base housing? Will family members be restricted to their homes if bases close down completely? How are work orders being handled during this time?

We will not restrict movement for anyone requiring medical care or access to essential services.Visitors are highly discouraged in accordance with social distancing guidelines. We understand this is a major inconvenience/disruption, but by everyone decreasing our social interactions we are protecting the most vulnerable in our population, the elderly, immunocompromised, or those with chronic medical issues.

Housing Offices obtained commitment from project owners to continue working emergency work orders, and to ensure they are taking appropriate precautions when working with customers and entering homes in all privatized housing communities across the force.

 How can I onboard a new employee when so many base services are closed?

Air Force Personnel Center and AFMC have been working with your Civilian Personnel Offices to enact temporary virtual in-processing to assist new employees joining our teams. Once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, new employees will be required to report in person to their servicing civilian units to complete any open tasks. Supervisors and employees should reach out to their specific servicing HR teams for further information and guidance.

 How long will max-telework policies remain in place? When will missions return to normal?

At this time, we continue to encourage telework and will adjust the end date based on Air Force and CDC guidance. Our Airmen continue to execute our critical Air Force missions during this time. While we cannot predict the long term impacts, we need to stay remain cognizant on all of our missions and identify to leadership teams those that may experience significant impacts based on long term COVID-19 restrictions. Leadership is looking at how we transition operations and will determine what new policies may remain, to include telework.

 

 I have open positions in my office. What can I do to ensure these get filled as soon as possible? 

AFMC continues to recruit for, interview candidates and fill positions across the command and has implemented measures to ensure expeditious on-boarding  of employees, including:

  • Enabling selecting supervisors to work with new hires that are outside of the commuting area to pursue an exception to any Stop Movement orders for mission essential or humanitarian reasons.
  • Implementation of virtual on-boarding processes for new employees within an installation’s the commuting area as well as those new hires with an approved exception to the Stop Movement.

Hiring officials should work with the supervising HR offices to address any vacancies and hiring needs.

 

 What are the AFMC grooming standards based on the Air Force guidance?

We still have the responsibility to maintain our grooming and fitness standards to the highest degree possible during these times, however we will be flexible within reason based on the current situation. Any deviation from standards should be accomplished reasonably and should not impede our ability to perform duties, properly and professionally wear uniforms and head gear, nor prevent or obstruct the use of protective and/or safety equipment.

 What’s important to remember during social distancing and the need to telework?

As we carry out our mission amidst the daily challenges associated with COVID-19, it remains essential that we don’t lose sight of our teammates.  Everyone should use all available means (i.e. telephone, video capabilities, social media, email, etc.) to ensure we stay socially connected while being physically apart.  It’s important that social distancing does not morph into social isolation.  Staying connected with one another helps keep us resilient and that’s important through the coming days.  If you need help, please reach out.  Don’t suffer alone.  Call a co-worker, call your leadership.  Use your local mental health and Chaplain resources, or call MilitaryOne Source or the Air Force Employee Assistance Program if you are a civilian.  We will get through this together and come out stronger on the other end.

 

 What is AFMC and the Air Force doing to minimize the impacts of networks and VPN connectivity to mission execution?

The Air Force has taken a number of steps to minimize the impacts of VPN connectivity and network issues on telework. Our IT professionals have made significant improvements  to systems and connectivity. The AF purchased critically needed IT infrastructure to dramatically increase Virtual Private Network connections and similar capabilities.  A number of remote desktop applications and collaborations tools are now accessible without VPN. As new capabilities are employed, information will be disseminated.

Our goal is to help you to be productive, and we will exploit every tool at our disposal to ensure you can complete your missions.

 Do I have to wear a face covering? 

In support of updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines all DoD personnel and visitors to government installations are required to wear a mask indoors at DoD facilities. All DoD personnel should continue to comply with CDC guidance regarding areas where masks should be worn, including within airports. 

The Department will review and revise all applicable Force Health Protection guidance to address any new CDC guidelines. 

Commanders and supervisors may make exceptions to this memorandum as necessary to ensure a safe workforce. Commanders and supervisors should not ask about an employee's vaccination status or use information about an employee's vaccination status to make decisions about how and when employees will report to a workplace instead of teleworking. 

Nationwide, there are still not enough people vaccinated to give us "herd immunity." Herd immunity happens when enough people are immune, through vaccination or having had the COVID-19 disease in that the virus can no longer effectively spread from person to person. Experts estimate that at least 70% of people need to be immune to COVID-19 in order for herd immunity to exist. Until then, masks and social distancing are vital to slowing the spread of COVID 19. Additionally, there are emerging COVID-19 variants. Though vaccines appear to offer reasonable protection against known variants, new variants emerge unpredictably. When they do, we don't know right away how effective the vaccine is against them. However, mask wear and social distancing work against all of them.

 What is the Families First Corona Virus Act (FFCRA)?

This legislation provides eligible employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for reasons related to COVID-19, effective April 1 through  Dec. 31. 

In general, there are two components of this legislation: 

  1. Emergency Family & Medical Leave provides leave benefits of up to 10 weeks at two-thirds (2/3) pay to part time and intermittent employees who require time away from home to take care of their children. 
  1. Emergency paid sick leave allowing up to 80 hours of leave to Federal civilian employees in specified circumstances related to COVID-19. The majority of eligible AFMC civilians will fall under this category.  The amount of pay the member may receive is based on the following:
  • Up to two weeks (80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay (with cap of $511 per day and $5,110 in aggregate) if the employee can’t work because they are quarantined (pursuant to federal, state, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and awaiting a medical diagnosis; OR
  • Up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at two-thirds (2/3) the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to federal, state, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19 

Specific guidance is available through leadership and supervisory channels. 

 What if you have a flare up in cases, or even just one positive case?

Our installation public health teams are building their plans to rapidly react with contact tracing to any worker who becomes ill and is presumptive positive for the illness in coordination with trained augmentation teams and/or supervisors. Workers also have an important responsibility for self-health monitoring and immediately identify if they experience any symptoms to their supervisor. If they feel ill, they must stay at home.

 What about workers with conditions that place them at high risk? Can they safely return?

Many at-risk workers such as those with heart conditions, diabetes, and on chemotherapy, have been teleworking, or – if their job cannot be accomplished via telework – have been on administrative weather and safety leave. While we can’t completely eliminate the risk of exposure until a vaccine for COVID-19 is available, we’ve taken prudent, precautionary measures to minimize the risk of exposure to our returning workforce. We’re making our decisions on scientific data and the local situation, informed by CDC, State and higher headquarters guidance and our public health professionals.

 What if an employee is anxious and does not want to return to work?

We understand people have anxiety. COVID-19 is a very serious illness and it is changing the way we do our business. In developing the plan, installation commanders are empowered to tailor actions and timing based on the local situation. Rest assured our commanders are taking all the appropriate actions to protect our people and lower the risk and enable us to perform our missions. We will necessarily operate this way until a vaccine is widely available.

 Will you be performing health monitoring for workers before they enter facilities?

For most workers, they will be required to self-monitor their health daily. If Airmen feel ill or experience any COVID symptoms, they are required to stay at home and notify their supervisor. This is critical to protecting not just a specific Airmen but also the entire workforce. Some facilities such as Child Care Centers and Medical Facility screening may require additional screening measures before entry. A significant risk to the workforce could be posed by having someone with COVID-19, or symptoms, present in the workplace at the current time. The recommendation is that each worker does not come to work when feeling ill. This includes self-monitoring for a fever. If they feel they have a fever, they should take their temperature before coming to work. Since the CDC, as well as state/local health authorities, have acknowledged community spread of COVID-19 and issued attendant precautions, employers may also measure employees' body temperature. As with all medical information, the fact that an employee had a fever or other symptoms would be subject to ADA confidentiality requirements.

 What is the status of return-to-full-capacity efforts at AFMC?

COVID-19 has impacted missions across the command to varying degrees. Our workforce exercised extraordinary creativity to continue critical research and development, acquisition, test, sustainment, logistics, installation and mission support while working from home or in alternate environments. 

We execute our wartime mission every day, and the Nation counts on us to execute our mission essential tasks. We’ve been carefully planning how we can best return the workforce to full capacity while minimizing risk so we can more effectively execute our mission essential tasks. COVID-19 forced us to shut down many base services and many workers with conditions that placed them at higher risk remained at home on weather and safety leave. However, some missions were adversely impacted and efficiencies diminished.

As the situation improves, we are preparing to gradually reopen services and bring employees back into the workplace. These are data-based decisions, not calendar-driven activities. Exactly when and how is determined by the local situation and the unique mission sets. We are working with experts to ensure that we are taking the appropriate steps to minimize the risk of exposure to our Airmen while balancing mission execution.