Pentagon Weeks Away From Normal Operating; Military Bases Set to Allow Transfers

The Pentagon is still several weeks away from returning most of the more than 20,000 people who work there back to their offices, defense officials said Tuesday, as the military prepares for some bases to start accepting transfers immediately.Last week, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper provided guidelines to local commanders about potentially easing stop movement orders should certain coronavirus conditions be met. His initial order restricted travel until June 30.FILE – Defense Secretary Mark Esper speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, March 2, 2020.Lisa Hershman, the Pentagon’s chief management officer, said reopening at the Pentagon could start “phase one” of its plan once northern Virginia and the District of Columbia show a downward trend in coronavirus cases that continues for at least 14 days, a milestone that hasn’t been met yet.”That (downward trend) started on May 14,” Hershman said. “So far, we are counting about eight days of solid data and we are still in a downward progression. … But we’ve got a way to go.”Should no COVID-19 resurgence occur, most Pentagon workers could be back in their offices during phase three of four. Each phase is at least two weeks long.Meanwhile, the Pentagon’s stop movement order, which has halted several service member moves, will be lifted in stages, said Matt Donovan, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.Donovan did not name the installations that have been approved to accept service member transfers immediately, but said more details could be released later this week.In addition, the Pentagon is mandating all service members and encouraging all Defense Department civilians and contractors to undergo a mandatory 14-day restriction of movement prior to deployment outside the U.S.The Pentagon also said Tuesday that a third U.S. service member has died from complications after contracting the coronavirus.Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said that it did not appear the Army reservist had been actively working on the military’s response to the coronavirus pandemic when he contracted the virus. As of early Tuesday, 9,173 of the cumulative coronavirus cases around the globe were related to the U.S. military — 6,118 service members, 1,433 civilians, 1,042 dependents and 580 contractors — the Pentagon said. There have been 35 DOD-related COVID-19 deaths. 

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