Last week, US Naval Academy management offered midshipmen the tantalizing prospect of looser freedom restrictions for the holiday long weekend in exchange for a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to an e internal email obtained by Navy Times.
In an email to the academy’s student body – known as the Midshipmen’s Brigade – sent Friday morning, management promised students freer freedom guidelines based on the percentage of psychics who received their third cut.
“Based on continued analysis of test results… the current level of psychics in ISO and the current level of psychics who are boosted or post-COVID positive as of December 1, I am prepared to offer the following award to ALL Brigade based on our recall level at the end of the day today,” wrote Marine Corps Col. JP McDonough, Commanding Officer Midshipmen.
Although psychics are prohibited from eating indoors and in bars, McDonough’s email promised that psychics could dine indoors and go to bars in accordance with local regulations if over 94 % of student body members received their reminders.
Other benefits of freedom include the wearing of civilian clothes in certain situations and Sunday night freedom before Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
McDonough did not respond to an email from the Navy Times seeking comment.
But according to other academy officials, the freedom incentives have boosted the recall take rate.
As of Jan. 7, 71 percent of the brigade’s approximately 4,400 midshipmen had been recalled, according to academy spokeswoman Cmdr. Alana Garas.
“After a vaccine recall evolution conducted last Friday … that number jumped to 87%,” Garas said Wednesday in an email to the Navy Times. Based on that percentage — and despite the increase — students didn’t earn indoor restaurants and bars, a freedom radius beyond 35 miles, or overnight stays.
Garas declined to comment on whether the academy will offer looser liberty in the future to encourage adoption of the COVID booster, but said “similar risk assessment thresholds have impacted the liberty policies of aspirants over the past two years”.
“Freedom is reassessed weekly based on current rates at the USNA, in the local community, and associated immunity rates,” she said.
McDonough’s Friday email thanks the psychics for attending a town hall the day before to discuss the COVID recall.
Garas said the academy does not ask psychics why they might not get the encore “for privacy reasons.”
On Wednesday, Garas said less than half a percent of the brigade’s roughly 4,400 members tested positive for COVID, but she declined to provide specific numbers.
As the Omicron variant spread over the winter break and mids then returned to the academy, management relied on modeling that showed cases would decline if more than 90% of students were vaccinated, a Garas said.
While the Navy has mandated two COVID vaccine injections for all members, current guidelines only encourage one booster.
But in keeping with evolving public health guidelines, a Navy message to the fleet last month said a recall “essentially becomes the next shot in a series and will likely become mandatory in the near future.”
This month, before returning from furlough, psychics had to either provide documentation of a COVID-19 infection since December 1, receive an antigen test if a booster was received during or before winter vacation. , or receive a more accurate PCR test if they had not received a booster and their first round of vaccinations had taken place more than six months earlier, Garas said.
“Achieving higher levels of immunity has been identified by USNA leadership as critical to enabling the Brigade to deliver the in-person classes and military training that are critical to fulfilling the mission-ready graduates lead Sailors and Marines,” Garas said.
As the pandemic has had its ups and downs, psychics have at times faced movement restrictions and online classes to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Geoff is a senior reporter for the Military Times, specializing in the navy. He has covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was recently a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes all kinds of advice at [email protected]