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Wright-Patterson AFB discusses response to COVID-19 outbreak

Lt. Col. Karen Kramer, 88th Aerospace Medicine Squadron’s Public Health Flight commander, center, briefs the audience during a COVID-19 tabletop exercise on March 11 inside the Wright-Patterson Medical Center auditorium while Lt. Col. (Dr.) Hui Ling Li, installation public health emergency officer and 88 MDG chief of Aerospace Medicine, stands by. Li functions as the base’s ‘incident commander’ during any public health emergency. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Emily Rupert)

Lt. Col. Karen Kramer, 88th Aerospace Medicine Squadron’s Public Health Flight commander, center, briefs the audience during a COVID-19 tabletop exercise on March 11 inside the Wright-Patterson Medical Center auditorium while Lt. Col. (Dr.) Hui Ling Li, installation public health emergency officer and 88 MDG chief of Aerospace Medicine, stands by. Li functions as the base’s ‘incident commander’ during any public health emergency. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Emily Rupert)

An 88th Force Support Squadron spokesperson addresses possible issues for her specific organization during a tabletop exercise at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on March 11. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Emily Rupert)

An 88th Force Support Squadron spokesperson addresses possible issues for her specific organization during a tabletop exercise at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on March 11. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Emily Rupert)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Preparations and plans to address the impacts of a potential local COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak affecting Wright-Patterson Air Force Base missions and personnel were discussed during a tabletop exercise led by 88th Medical Group personnel March 11 in the Wright-Patterson Medical Center’s auditorium. The exercise helped reinforce plans that are already in place as well as discuss what could happen as the situation progresses.

Col. Michael Foutch, 88th Medical Group commander, said, “The intent of today’s tabletop event is to share questions, concerns, scenarios and ideas so we can develop initiatives to direct the right people to mitigate the effects of this situation.”

Lt. Col. (Dr.) Hui Ling Li, installation public health emergency officer and 88 MDG chief of Aerospace Medicine, is leading the base’s coronavirus containment plan and led the tabletop exercise. Key members of the 88th Air Base Wing and base tenant organizations listened to the COVID-19 situation update and a clinical overview of the disease, and were encouraged to continue to identify priorities, possible gaps, limiting factors and mitigation and response measures for their organizations.

“The intent of this cross-talk is to get personnel thinking and planning,” Li said. “We are exploring the big picture – what actions are being taken now and what will need to be done in the near future. What could we do in our organizations to get information to come from the top and from (organizations’ representatives) to keep our people healthy? What do we need to do best to prevent an outbreak?” she asked.

Areas of discussion and questions included the following and more:

  • Continued education with reference to COVID-19
  • Communication and collaboration tools
  • Social distancing, telework and/or implementation of alternative schedules
  • Use of appropriate types of leave
  • Reduction of non-essential mission tasks

Wright-Patterson AFB’s website is being updated daily at https://www.wpafb.af.mil/corona/ with the newest and most accurate information available, 88 ABW Public Affairs Director Robert Purtiman Jr. announced.

The website states: “The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is a rapidly changing situation. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base leadership is engaged on a daily basis with members of the health care community for the most current status of the virus and what precautions should be taken in our surrounding areas. The Wright-Patterson Medical Center (WPMC - 88th Medical Group) public health team and infectious disease physicians are also meeting daily to review guidance and information from local, state, federal, international, Air Force, Defense Health Agency, and Department of Defense organizations related to COVID-19.”

Everyone associated with the base is encouraged to visit the site daily to receive updated information, and tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on stopping the spread of germs; what you need to know about coronavirus; and what to do if you are sick with coronavirus.

“We have created a living document where all the COVID-19 questions and answers are cataloged,” Purtiman explained. “We are encouraging people to continue to submit questions to 88abw.pa@us.af.mil. We will staff to the appropriate agency for response and will continuously update the document.

Purtiman said he encourages everyone to stay attuned to the official 88 ABW communication channels such as www.wpafb.af.mil, social media and the Skywrighter (www.skywrighter.com) for the latest information.