In a late Sunday alert posted to the MyNavyHR official Facebook page, Chief of Navy Reserve Vice Adm. Luke McCollum ordered the postponement of drill duties for nearly all Selected Reservists until May 11, part of a broad military effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
The directive is designed to limit non-mission essential travel and comply with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to maintain social distance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Navy Operational Support Centers will remain open for those who need imminent mobilization and mission-essential help but “all regular drill weekends are postponed” through May 11, according to the message.
McCollum offered personnel to use “flexible reschedules, telework, and liberal authorized as directed by their unit leaders and/or supported command” to make up the lost drill dates.
McCollum’s command will provide guidance on “enhanced telecommuting procedures” to ease the strain on the reserve force and preserve force readiness.
Navy Reserve Activities have been directed to “liberally approve annual participation waivers based on the impact of COVID-19,” according to the message.
For reservists rotating back from countries designated as affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the directive orders personnel to remain at home or similar quarters for 14 days from their departure from the nation.
On Thursday, both Navy officials and state leaders in Maine announced that a reservist who recently returned from coronavirus-ravaged Italy had tested “presumptive positive” for the disease and had been quarantined at home.
Selected Reservists currently on orders to units nationwide will be allowed to complete their assignments but new travel orders will not be issued unless the personnel are deemed essential to the mission, according to the message.
Navy civilians with telework agreements are expected to continue with that arrangement “as much as practicable,” the directive orders.
Those without telework agreements are urged to complete the required training and sign a telework agreement with their supervisors as soon as possible.
The latest measures adopted by McCollum are likely to affect the bulk of the force’s 50,000 Selected Reservists.
A previous order issued Friday to postpone drill scheduled for March 14–15 was designed to give leaders time to research CDC guidance and then adapt the health policies to the reserve force.
This is a breaking story and Navy Times will continue updating it.
Prine came to Navy Times after stints at the San Diego Union-Tribune and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors and the Combat Infantryman Badge.