WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Col. Patrick Miller, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander, addressed the implications of moving to Health Protection Condition Bravo+ at the latest COVID-19 situation update Aug. 18 on a Facebook Live town hall.
Miller was joined by Col. (Dr.) Michael Crowder, 88th Medical Group’s public health emergency officer; Col. Christian Lyons, 88 MDG commander; and Col. Sirena Morris, 88th Mission Support Group commander.
“We are trying to make good, risk-informed, data-driven decisions about how we proceed forward,” Miller said.
Due to high community transmission rates and an increase in local hospitalizations, Miller said “we needed to elevate our health protection condition level from Bravo to Bravo+,” but added there is no public health emergency for Wright-Patt AFB.
HPCON Bravo Plus will allow the installation to implement additional safety measures to protect the force and mitigate the fast moving spread of the Delta Variant.
Installation units are authorized to have up to 40% of their workforce in the office. Indoor meetings and events are permitted up to 50 people. There are no attendance restrictions on outdoor meetings and events, provided proper physical distancing is maintained.
Miller encouraged units to balance mission execution with health and safety and reviewed mitigation measures:
- Mandatory wear of facial coverings
- Frequent hand-washing or use of sanitizer
- Minimize touching your eyes, nose or mouth
- Maintain physical distancing
- Stay home if you are not feeling well
“Our own personal health, the health of those around us and our readiness are paramount, and COVID-19 vaccines are the game-changing weapon in our fight moving forward,” Miller said.
Local situation report
Crowder discussed HPCON status indicators and how data is used to drive decisions.
“The four indicators that contribute to HPCON status determination are: 1) COVID-19 case incidence; 2) trending of cases, up or down; 3) trending percent positivity, up or down; and 4) availability of hospital resources,” he said.
Mitigation efforts do work and personnel should give vaccination a strong consideration, Crowder added.
“Vaccinations have and will continue to be key in our efforts against COVID-19,” he said. “The best path forward to avoid ongoing large-scale threats of death, illness (and) COVID-19-related isolations is to get as close as we can to 100 percent vaccination.”
According to Crowder, the 88th Medical Group is closely monitoring booster-related information and standing by for higher guidance from the Air Force and Food and Drug Administration. Once information is available, base personnel will be notified.
Regarding isolation and when to quarantine in relation to an individual’s vaccine status, Crowder said: “Regardless of vaccination status, if you start to experience symptoms, then you should get a COVID-19 test and isolate until results are received.
“Vaccinated individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19 but are not experiencing symptoms do not need to quarantine. Unvaccinated individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19 but are not experience symptoms should still quarantine for seven, 10 or 14 days, dependent on the circumstances.”
The difference from previous case surges is that vaccinations are now available, he said.
88th Medical Group
Lyons addressed the pending vaccination mandate for service members, saying “we are still awaiting higher guidance.” He encouraged individuals with questions pertaining to potential medical accommodations to contact providers via the TRICARE online portal to schedule a virtual or in-person appointment.
To help address questions and concerns about the vaccine, 88 MDG is putting together another physician panel. A vaccination town hall is planned for Aug. 26 at 1 p.m.
The panel will include experts from Infectious Disease, OB-GYN, Critical Care and Pulmonology, and Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Wright-Patterson Medical Center will remain open to take care of base personnel and beneficiaries. There are no changes to capacity limits and all services are available.
To schedule a vaccination, go to https://informatics-stage.health.mil/WPAFBCOVIDApp/ or call 937-257-SHOT. For personnel who are not TRICARE eligible, you can schedule vaccinations at https://gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov/.
Mission Support Group
Under HPCON Bravo+, Morris said WPAFB fitness centers will reduce capacity limits by 50%, with priority given to military personnel. This will include the capacity of each workout area. Individuals must maintain 6-foot distance between each other, continue to wipe down equipment before and after each use, and practice good hand hygiene.
“We’re going to continue doing military fitness assessments,” she added, “and all fitness assessments will be outdoors.”
Child Development Centers and School Age Programs will continue their current services and no adjustments will be made.
To view current facility operational status, go to www.wpafb.af.mil/Welcome/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/2115161/facility-operational-status/
Stay current on updates
To watch the Aug. 18 Facebook town hall, visit www.facebook.com/WPAFB. A recording is also available at http://www.dvidshub.net/unit/88abw.
If you have follow-up questions or concerns, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 937-522-3252.