WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio — Col. Patrick Miller, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and 88th Air Base Wing commander, held a Facebook Live town hall Dec. 16 to discuss the installation’s current operating environment under COVID-19.
Wright-Patt continues to stay in Health Protection Condition Bravo with an emphasis on maximizing teleworking.
The town hall also included Lt. Col. (Dr.) Michael Crowder, the 88th Medical Group’s public health emergency officer; Col. Christian Lyons, 88th Medical Group commander; Col. Paul Burger, 88th Mission Support Group commander; and Chief Master Sgt. Jason Shaffer, 88th Air Wing Base command chief.
“As we continue to talk about protecting our teammates, I encourage everyone to continue to do the right thing – wear your mask at all times, continue to maintain that physical distance of 6 feet, but most importantly, maintain that social connection,” Miller said. “The great thing I saw from Thanksgiving is folks were doing the right thing. We were concerned that we would see a bump up in COVID cases after Thanksgiving, but we didn’t see that holiday bump because folks were doing the right thing.”
There are many virtual options for holiday gatherings to remain safe and keep COVID-19 numbers low.
As Christmas and New Year’s Day approach, Team Wright-Patt needs to do the same thing it did during Thanksgiving, Miller emphasized. Most importantly, if you’re not feeling well: stay home, quarantine if needed, seek medical care and get tested – continue to do the right thing and stay informed through Ohio and installation websites.
Ohio received its first batches of coronavirus vaccines Dec. 14. Once they reach Wright-Patterson AFB and the medical center, protocols will follow a very similar process as Ohio and other states. Vaccines will be issued on a prescriptive criteria, with the focus being on health care workers, first responders and public safety personnel.
Currently, Wright-Patterson AFB is not in the queue to receive the initial coronavirus vaccines, leaders said. The Department of Defense is prioritizing which bases will receive the first push. The base recently conducted a tabletop exercise, or dry run, to test its capabilities and plan.
Miller stressed that Team Wright-Patt is prepared to receive, store and issue vaccines with current guidelines – “I will tell ya, the team is ready.”
As more vaccines are pushed out by DOD, information will be shared and another town hall held to communicate Wright-Patt’s vaccination plan.
“Vaccines are great, but vaccines don’t do anything without a vaccination,” Miller said. “Whenever it does come time for you to make a choice in receiving the vaccine, know that it won’t do anything unless you get vaccinated – vaccinations matter. If you have the opportunity to get the vaccine, I encourage you to make the right decision.”
Continued protection measures
- Mandatory mask wear on base and in buildings/work centers, while in groups of more than two and riding in a vehicle with more than one person outside your family.
- Physical distancing of at least 6 feet from others.
- Maximizing telework for eligible personnel and where it makes sense, while maintaining mission continuity.
- Do not come to work if you feel sick.
- No gatherings of more than 10 people inside or outside.
- No potlucks or meal gatherings at work centers.
- Work centers can bring up to 50% of the workforce back if mission(s) require, but that number is not a target – employees should telework if they don’t need to be on base.
To find reliable and up-to-date coronavirus information, visit official public heath sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ohio Department of Health and Wright-Patterson AFB websites.
“When it comes to COVID-19, there really is a huge amount of misinformation out there (in various formats),” Crowder said. “The information overload can be confusing. Currently, we’re working in conjunction with our public affairs team to develop a new website for all things COVID. Our goal is to have a one-stop-shop site for COVID information that is relevant to Wright-Patt. It’s our commitment to keep the site updated.”
Wright-Patterson Medical Center currently has influenza vaccines for all beneficiaries. Children ages 6 months to 8 years should report to the immunization clinic for vaccinations.
COVID-19 site testing
The CST, located by the medical center, is a drive-thru testing site open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday (excluding federal holidays, AFMC family days and medical group training days) by appointment only.
To make an appointment:
- Active-duty, retiree and enrolled beneficiaries: call 937-522-2778
- Active duty can walk in at their assigned clinic
- Government/NAF employees and non-enrollees: call 937-255-4809 (option 2)
The quickest way to check your test results is through the Tricare Online Patient Portal at www.tricareonline.com/tol2.
“Use of the Tricare Online Portal will help prevent the gumming up of our hospital phone lines,” Lyons said. “Your help in this will help all of us tremendously.”
Child Development Centers
The installation is committed to the safety and care of Airmen’s children, base officials said. Through an abundance of caution, the decision was made to close two CDCs for deep cleaning this week.
“I can’t say this enough: Our caregivers play a tremendously important role in enabling us to perform our mission,” Burger said.
The Wright-Patt CDCs are looking for caregivers. If you would like to join the team, or you run a private daycare and want to be part of the network, call NAF Human Resources at 937-257-7792.
Wright-Patt has several agencies that support Airmen and families. One is the Community Support Program, also known as the Wright Path. Currently, the program is doing 12 days of resiliency to foster connectedness during the holidays when physical distancing is necessary. To see what the Wright Path looks like, visit its Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/WrightPattCSC/
“I read a powerful quote the other day from Greg Kincaid that said, ‘No matter how much falls on us, we keep plowing ahead. That’s the only way to keep the roads clear,’” Shaffer said. “I will tell you teammates – we keep plowing ahead, but sometimes, we need to take a knee and sometimes we need to recharge the batteries and refuel. One way to do this is through the Wright Path, check them out – they’re doing amazing things.”
Learn about other support agencies on Wright-Patterson AFB at www.wpafb.af.mil/Units.
Miller ended by encouraging Team Wright-Patt to stay socially connected and safe, wishing everyone a “happy holidays and New Year.”
Stay current on updates
Follow the Wright-Patt AFB Facebook page @wpafb to stay up to date with current information on the base and medical center.
To watch the Dec. 16 Facebook Town Hall, visit www.facebook.com/WPAFB/videos/1026285974548613
If you have follow-up questions or concerns, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 937-522-3252.