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The Pentagon Will Require Masks To Be Worn Indoors Even By Those Who Are Vaccinated

The seal of the Department of Defense.
Mark Wilson
Getty Images
The seal of the Department of Defense.

Updated July 28, 2021 at 6:01 PM ET

The U.S. Department of Defense has issued directions that require anyone inside its facilities to wear a mask, even if they're vaccinated.

The updated requirement applies to all service members, federal employees, onsite contractors, and visitors, and requires masks to be worn in indoor facilities and installations in areas of "substantial or high transmission," according to a statement from Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Jamal Brown.

The update rescinds a previous mask guidance, which since May had allowed fully vaccinated Department of Defense personnel to not wear a mask indoors or outdoors.

The new requirement follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's updated mask guidance. The CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas with higher COVID-19 transmission, which currently includes military bases in several southern states.

Unvaccinated people within the facility, or those not fully vaccinated, are expected to physically distance themselves.

"All defense personnel should continue to comply with CDC guidance regarding areas where masks should be worn. The Department will review and revise all applicable Force Health Protection guidance to address the new CDC guidelines," Brown wrote in the statement.

As NPR's Greg Myre reports, "The military has fared relatively well in combating COVID. Fewer than 30 service members have died from the virus out of an active duty and reserve force totaling more than 2 million."

Josie Fischels is an intern on NPR's News Desk.

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