Department of Defense Releases Tools to Mitigate the Threat of the Omicron Variant of COVID-19

United States Department of Defense

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Recently, the Department of Defense released two updated memorandums in an effort to increase safety against COVID-19. The memorandums are titled “Tools to Mitigate the Threat of the Omicron Variant of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in the Department of Defense” and “Updated Force Health Protection Guidance (Supplement 15) Revision 3 – Department of Defense Guidance for Coronavirus Disease 2019 Laboratory Testing Services.”

The first memorandum provides an update on tools to mitigate the threat of the Omicron variant of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the DoD, which evidence suggests is more transmissible than other COVID-19 variants. While the Omicron variant’s characteristics may differ from other variants, the tools referenced within the memo have successfully been used throughout the pandemic, such as masking, physical distancing, teleworking, testing, and vaccination. These tools remain effective and must be continuously implemented.

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Per the memo, installation commanders should be prepared to rapidly increase Health Protection Condition (HPCON) levels if Omicron case counts rise. The HPCON framework attachment provides a mechanism by which to increase or decrease the use of non-pharmaceutical measures, such as physical distancing, depending on local surrounding community case counts.

The Department also released Force Health Protection Guidance (Supplement 15) Revision 3 – Department of Defense Guidance for Coronavirus Disease 2019 Laboratory Testing Services. The revised memorandum updates previous DoD Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) laboratory testing guidance. The force health protection (FHP) supplement provides guidance on COVID-19 testing for eligible persons suspected of having contracted COVID-19, and applies Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) testing guidance in the DoD context.

The memo states that DoD Components will continue to employ clinical diagnostic testing in accordance with the updated guidance. The guidance also supports the DoD surveillance strategy for the COVID-19 pandemic response with complementary health surveillance activities, screening, asymptomatic testing, and sentinel screening testing surveillance consistent with applicable law.

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Specifically stated, health care providers will use their clinical judgment and awareness of laboratory testing resource availability, and will work closely with local and installation public health authorities or Public Health Emergency officers, to guide COVID-l9 diagnostic testing.

The memorandum for Updated Force Health Protection Guidance (Supplement 15) Revision 3 – Department of Defense Guidance for Coronavirus Disease 2019 Laboratory Testing Services can be found here.

The memorandum for Tools to Mitigate the Threat of the Omicron Variant of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in the Department of Defense can be found here.

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