HPCON, the DEFCON for health

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The Department of Defense is taking a role in helping people to deal with the virus worldwide. During global emergencies, the military has been used for a variety of things, not just conflicts. In this case, it’s a war against an invisible enemy so health is affected. A Definition of Condition or HPCON has been set up so we’ll know what actions to take and when.

Depending on the enemy, public alerts can have different levels

The DOD, like so many organizations, has protocols for health conditions called HPCON or health protection conditions. This is reviewed periodically and adjusted where necessary according to what the health threat is.

There are five HPCON levels and their associated tasks.

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0 is routine. Maintain normal levels of cleanliness for optimum wellness.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Cover your cough, sneeze with a tissue, throw the tissue away.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Eat a nutritious diet and exercise.
  • Keep your immunizations up to date.
  • Don’t go to work if you’re sick.
  • Create an emergency kit for family members and one for pets if you have any.

For the HPCON level “A” or Alpha, maintain routine levels and add a few more.

  • Regularly clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces and items.
  • If you’re sick, call your health care provider to let them know your symptoms. They may need to have you remain where you are.
  • Stay informed. Check the Center for Disease Control and local health organizations often.

 

For “B” or Bravo the area is dealing with increased communicability. Maintain the previous levels and include:

  • Stay a safe distance from the next person, observe no contacts such as hand shaking and hugging.
  • Don’t travel unless you need to and stay away from areas known to be at risk.
  • Be sure food, medical supplies and other necessary items are on hand for children and pets for a 14 day period.
  • Keep travel restrictions in mind and note activity cancellations for business and government.
  • Be mindful of local movement restrictions and military access.
  • Be alert to alternative working and activity arrangements such as teleworking.
  • Comply with quarantine orders.

HPCON Charlie or “C” is more substantial transmissions. These observances should be done in addition to the previous levels:

  • Expect activity cancellations and travel restrictions.
  • Have family activities while quarantined for mental health. This will have the added effect of bringing the family closer together, helpful in a time of crisis.
  • Prepare for limited access to needed services and items.
  • Continue to telework or work remotely depending on your employer’s direction.
  • If you’re outside the United States, monitor access to transportation.

HPCON Delta is the most severe. In addition to the previous levels, be sure to observe the additional needs:

  • Quarantine may be for extended amounts of time.
  • Monitor communication from state, local and federal government to know where supplies are and what can and can’t be done.

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