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Most Maryland military bases now requiring masks as COVID transmission rate increases

Almost all of Maryland’s military installations including the Naval Academy are now requiring indoor mask-wearing regardless of vaccination status.

The new mask mandate comes as a result of the Department of Defense’s policy, which requires everyone to wear a mask indoors if the COVID-19 transmission rate is considered high or substantial.

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Fort George G. Meade is now in substantial transmission, meaning everyone must wear a mask inside a federal facility, outside of a person’s home, on the installation, even if they are vaccinated, spokesperson Chad Jones said.

Substantial transmission is when 50 cases per 100,000 people were reported in a seven-day period, Garrison Commander Col Christopher Nyland said during a town hall Thursday.

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Anyone who is not vaccinated must wear a mask indoors and outdoors, a policy that has not changed, Jones said.

The Naval Academy announced on its website Monday that masks are now required indoors regardless of vaccination status. The academy’s announcement comes as Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman announced that masks would be required inside of all county buildings, including libraries, regardless of vaccination status.

Joint Base Andrews now also requires masks indoors despite vaccination, according to the base’s website, despite the base website reporting it is in Health Protection Condition Alpha, which is the status for low transmission for a disease. HPCON Alpha is one step below normal.

The Naval Academy reverted from HPCON Alpha to HPCON Bravo Monday as a result of increased transmission, according to the academy’s COVID-19 site. The visitor policy has not changed, according to the website. Fort Meade, which was in the process of transitioning to Alpha, will stay in Bravo, Nyland said.

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The Naval Air Station at Patuxent River is also at HPCON Bravo, with masks required inside regardless of vaccination status.

Fort Detrick, which has property in both Frederick and Montgomery counties, is currently at moderate transmission, which means masks are not required, said Jeff Arjes, chief of plans and operations. However, the state is now at a substantial rate of transmission, which means Fort Detrick could soon see the same levels, triggering the DOD mask policy. Fort Detrick is also at HPCON Bravo.

Aberdeen Proving Ground, which is at HPCON Alpha, is in Harford County, which has moderate transmission, according to a Facebook post from the installation. Indoor masks are not required in areas of moderate transmissions.

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