WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio - Col. Patrick Miller, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander, addressed a change to installation mask guidelines at the latest COVID-19 situation update during a May 19 Facebook Live town hall.
Miller was joined by Lt. Col. (Dr.) Michael Crowder, the 88th Medical Group’s public health emergency officer; Col. Christian Lyons, 88 MDG commander; and Col. Paul Burger, 88th Mission Support Group commander.
In line with new Department of Defense guidance issued May 13, Miller revised Wright-Patterson AFB’s mask-wear policy, stating that fully vaccinated personnel are no longer required to wear a mask indoors or outdoors on the installation. The policy is in effect immediately.
“I trust you. I trust you to make the right call,” Miller said. “At the end of the day, it’s a personal choice.”
Wright-Patterson AFB will remain in Health Protection Condition Bravo Phase 2 until updated force health-protection measures are released.
Following Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s recent announcement to rescind health-protective measures June 2, Miller emphasized the state and Wright-Patterson AFB are two different entities. As a federal property, DOD guides base operations.
“Wright-Patterson AFB personnel who are not vaccinated are required to wear a mask,” Miller said.
A few policy exceptions include Wright-Patterson Medical Center. Health care professionals will continue to comply with mask-wear guidance. Patients, visitors and all others entering also are required to wear masks.
Local-area situation report
Crowder discussed what’s driving the change in COVID-19-related guidance and how people can continue to stop the spread. He said Ohio has been in a state of decline the past six weeks.
However, WPAFB personnel still need to be aware of COVID-19 symptoms in an effort to “keep the pandemic under control and keep our base safe,” Crowder said.
That’s especially true as base officials recognize the U.K. variants as an open area of research, he added.
During the town hall, Lyons said Wright-Patterson AFB has a 43% overall vaccination population, including 62% among active-duty service members. Although it is not mandatory, he encouraged those who are vaccinated to tell their unit contacts so the installation has a better understanding of what its total vaccination rate is for Wright-Patterson AFB and the community.
Wright-Patterson Medical Center is now authorized to administer the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to beneficiaries ages 12-15 in addition to the current eligible population. To make an appointment, visit https://informatics-stage.health.mil/WPAFBCOVIDApp/ or call 937-257-SHOT.You can also schedule a vaccination by using your smartphone to scan the QR code.
Vaccination appointments are also available through the Ohio Department of Health at gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov.
Wright-Patterson Medical Center is open to base personnel and beneficiaries. Health care professionals are available to answer questions and concerns.
Child Development Centers
Burger recognized the main need for CDC care is infants to pre-toddlers. The Mission Support Group is working on a plan to return CDCs to full capacity in a safe manner, he said.
There are plans to increase capacities for Wright-Patterson fitness centers in June, to include retirees. For now, current capacity and community priorities remain until updated guidelines are authorized.
To view current fitness center hours and regulations, go to: www.wpafb.af.mil/Welcome/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/2115161/facility-operational-status/.
Before signing off, Miller encouraged personnel to make an informed decision about getting vaccinated and reinforced the Air Force core values — integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do.
“We are not out of this fight yet; we need each and every one of you in it each and every day,” he said. “Thanks for staying after it.”
Stay current on updates
To watch the May 19 Facebook town hall, visit www.facebook.com/WPAFB. A recording will also be available at www.dvidshub.net/unit/88abw.
If you have follow-up questions or concerns, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 937-522-3252.