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The Pentagon Shifts to Maximum Telework as Omicron Surges

The Pentagon is urging personnel to use maximum telework as coronavirus infections spike in the Washington, D.C. region.

The Pentagon is urging personnel to use maximum telework – and seek at-home testing before returning to the workplace –  as coronavirus infections spike in the Washington, D.C. region.

“Effectively immediately, all previously approved exceptions for occupancy limits over 60% are now capped at 60%, through the end of January 2022, in order to protect the workforce and preserve mission effectiveness,” Michael Donley, the director of administration and management and principal staff assistant to the defense secretary and deputy secretary for organizational and management issues, wrote in a Dec. 28 memo

Defense organizations are expected to keep facilities’  in-person occupancy rates less than 40% normal levels with exceptions subject to approval. Supervisors and managers are encouraged to push employees to telework – maximizing virtual meetings and physical distancing where appropriate – through the end of January as their missions permit, the memo states. Official visitors will also be limited and the Pentagon is closed to unofficial visitors through the end of January. 

“Protecting our workforce while performing our national security mission remains the secretary of Defense’s number one priority during the COVID-19 pandemic. Supervisors will continue to provide maximum telework opportunities and flexible scheduling to optimize the workforce while defending our nation, taking care of our people, and ensuring success through teamwork,” Donley said. 

The Pentagon would implement additional measures, such as making vaccines available onsite for defense contractors, civilians and military personnel, due the increase in COVID-19 and positive test results in the National Capital Region. 

The U.S. has had more than 4.6 million COVID-19 cases and 39,380 deaths in the past 28 days, according to data collected by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. According to data released Dec. 29, Washington, D.C. has seen 9,200 cases in the past 14 days. 

Defense is also urging personnel to get booster vaccinations to protect against COVID-19 for those older than 18 years old who completed a primary vaccine series at least six months ago for two-doses Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty or Moderna vaccines or in the last two months if they received a Johnson and Johnson shot.