6 April 2020
The US Pentagon has announced that all US military personnel must cover their faces in situations where they are unable to adhere to social-distancing guidelines.
This means that with a shortage of masks, troops will have to get creative.
The new anti-coronavirus protocol – which applies to military and civilian personnel, along with family members, contractors and guests on military bases – calls for wearing “cloth face coverings” when individuals are unable to keep at least six feet away from each other.
Personal protective equipment such as N95 respirators will be reserved for “appropriate personnel” – meaning everyone else will have to make their own masks, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a memo.
As an interim measure, all individuals are encouraged to fashion face coverings from household items or common materials, such as clean T-shirts or other clean cloths that can cover the nose and mouth area
The Pentagon has been widely criticized for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic among US forces. A Navy captain who was relieved of duty after raising the alarm about the virus spreading on his ship has been hailed as a hero among those who think the US military has failed to adequately respond to the health crisis.
A global shortage of medical masks has already led to international feuds. A German lawmaker who accused the US of “piracy” by diverting a shipment of protective masks bound for Berlin sparked heated exchanges between the two allies. The German senator later conceded that the US was not involved in the case. The masks, however, remain missing.