LAST UPDATED January 28, 2021 @ 5 p.m.
If you have a question that has not been answered here, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE: Latest posted questions are in bold font.
Q. Are face masks required on base?
A. Yes, face masks are required for entry into the commissary and all Exchange Facilities and locations. In the workplace, the Department of Defense and Department of the Air Force released its guidance on face coverings in line with the Centers for Disease Control guidelines. The use of cloth face coverings is required for those who cannot maintain six feet of physical distance in public areas or work centers on Wright-Patterson AFB. Individual commanders and supervisors will evaluate the needs of their forces and ensure that their personnel wear appropriate face coverings when they cannot adhere to separation guidance between employees or the people who they will come into contact with in the course of their duties and other activities. Please click here for additional guidance.
Q. What about special needs autistic children that will not wear a mask?
A. We are making exceptions under certain circumstances and understand that it can be difficult for children to wear masks at all times.
Q. Is there going to be an enforcement policy for family members, retirees and other non-government employees who have access to the base?
A. It is not a criteria for access to the installation. We have mandatory requirements for certain employees to wear a mask in a work area which does not facilitate the ability to maintain a six-foot social distancing area. However, it is highly recommended that you join forces with us. We have placed restrictions on mass gathering areas like the Commissary and Exchange where it is a requirement to have a facial covering to enter those facilities.
Q. If I show up at the gate without a mask, will I be allowed on the installation or will I be turned away?
A. At this time, it is not a requirement to enter the installation; however, all of us have to be prepared. We don’t know what the next few weeks will look like. We should start to prepare and follow the recommendation of the CDC and DoD as we may find ourselves in a situation where it may be a requirement to enter the installation.
Q. If I am unable to get a mask, will the base provide one for me?
A. There is a large effort across the DoD and procurement opportunities. The problem is the supply, but there are a variety of options which you can do yourself. You can make one yourself, use a scarf or something like that. As long as you are covering your nose and mouth you are meeting the requirement.
Q. When will we be able to bring guests (non-mil ID) on base?
A. We suspended our Trusted Traveler program during the current Public Health Emergency. State-issued Drivers’ licenses, passports, and other government issued identification cards previously accepted for access with an escort will no longer be authorized. All guests age 16 or older without a valid identification card need to obtain a visitor pass from the Visitor Control Center. The 88th Security Forces Squadron Pass & Registration section is located in Bldg. 286, outside Area A at 4185 Logistics Avenue. Pass & Registration is open 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday. Passes required after hours, or on weekends and holidays, can be obtained at gates 12A and 19B. However, considering we are still under a Public Health Emergency, we are asking people to stay at home and only come onto the installation for mission essential reasons or other necessary services. Please direct any questions about visitors to (937) 257-6506.
Q. Can you provide any insights as to the time frame that Wright-Patterson will continue to telework? The infection curve has slowed, and mid-May appears to be the peak outbreak time frame. As such, it would seem we will be teleworking until at least June.
A. The biggest thing we need to have is patience to following the guidance we’ve been given to combat this. We need to look at how we continue to manage the teleworking process as we enter what our surge is going to look like. One of the big things we’re looking at is what does reconstitution look like? It could be weeks or months, but we have to allow the process to go through. There will be deliberate steps taken to open the base and activities back up, but we must be careful to not allow the virus to resurge.
Q. If we continue to get more positive cases here at WPAFB, will the base close?
A. A base closure is a last resort to protect our mission. Every step of the way, in consultation with the state and our medical professionals, we are ensuring we are making necessary adjustments. We are making plans to do this if we have to. We want to make sure that a lot of these essential services that we’re providing right now are maintained.
Q. I need to get my ID renewed soon but due to COVID-19 I am unable to be with my sponsor during this time. Is there a way that I can renew my ID without them?
A. All dependent cards have been extended in the system until June 1, 2020 or until the Coronavirus situation allows resumption of dependent ID card appointments. You do not have to do anything, and you will be able to access the installation, all facilities like the Commissary and Exchange, as well for medical appointments.
Q. With all the restrictions on travel, both professionally and personally, can we expect an authorization for civilian special leave accrual this year?
A. There are discussions taking place in the Pentagon to address this issue. Specific guidance has not yet been given, but as soon as it is, we will be pushing that information out, including to procedures to apply, if necessary.
Q. When determining mission essential, how does this work for operations that include cross command concurrence to this restriction?
A. Commanders and supervisors determine who is mission essential based on unit needs and requirements – and the personnel requirements to complete them. It is possible that these will change as the situation evolves, and unit leadership will adjust their individual requirements to compensate.
Q. What if I don’t currently have leave to use, what am I supposed to do?
A. It depends on your current health condition. It could be health and safety leave, sick leave or other leave. You should work with your supervisor to find out what is best for your specific situation. If you supervisor has questions, they should consult with their EMR specialist.
Q. How are you handling in-processsing/onboarding of new employees?
A. We have begun virtual in-processing for new employees. The instructions for the process will be emailed to the new employee and their supervisor prior to beginning.
Q. How are you handling New Employee Orientation?
A. This will also be done online. There is computer based training that can be used as part of this process.
Q. What restrictions exist on civilian hiring during this pandemic?
A. Recruitment is continuing. There are some restrictions based on travel restrictions. You may see some delay based on your particular circumstances or where you are traveling from.
Q. When (if) a vaccine, for COVID19 is found and approved for U.S., will the base offer this vaccine to retirees, possibly in the same manner as the flu shots are given each year?
A. Whether or not such a vaccine would be available to retirees would be dictated by yet established Defense Health Agency guidance/policy. Seasonal flu vaccine is typically available to all beneficiaries. Whether the same would apply for a theoretical vaccine cannot yet be determined.
Q. Is there a location on WPAFB where military and civilians can get tested for COVID-19 virus and for its antibodies?
Beneficiaries of the 88 MDG can come to Wright-Patterson Medical Center for COVID-19 testing as directed by their healthcare provider. WPMC, nor any other locations across the Installation, are currently providing antibody testing.
Q. Is the base offering testing for senior citizens?
The WPMC is not doing testing based on age - testing is still based on a patient meeting the criteria, which includes exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. If you have specific concerns, please contact your primary care provider.
Q. Will pharmacy services be curtailed or closed?
A. It would be a very rare circumstance that the pharmacy services would be curtailed or halted, however local conditions with the Coronavirus may necessitate that action. We are working as hard as we can to maintain our services, but we must also plan for worst-case scenarios. Tricare home delivery is an option for delivery of up to a 90-day supply of prescriptions.
Q. Do we expect WPAFB to get the new rapid result test kits for COVID-19? If so, when would that happen?
A. We are working through several rapid testing options, and are getting some kits. However, we do not yet have a delivery date, but it will be within the next several weeks.
Q. What does asymptomatic mean in reference to COVID-19?
A. Asymptomatic simply means that and individual is showing no symptoms. However, it is possible that someone could have the virus without showing any symptoms and spread the virus. This is one of the reasons that social distancing is so important and we should all be doing it all of the time.
Q. Is there anything else that people can do to help fight COVID-19 like eat certain foods to help boost the immune system?
A. It is important to have a healthy, balanced diet, exercise regularly and eliminate stress – these are all helpful to the human body.
Q. If I’m having mild symptoms and I suspect it might be COVID-19, what medications should I take, or avoid taking? I’ve heard that taking something like Ibuprofen can be dangerous.
A. If you think you are showing symptoms or might have the virus, the best thing you can do is call your health care provide and follow the guidance that they provide you for your individual situation.
Q. Are you still taking blood donations?
A. We are still taking blood donations. If you can get on the base and pass the mandatory screening, you can donate blood. To make an appointment, call 937-257-0580 or go online to militarydonor.com and use the Zip code 45433.
Q. If I am not feeling well, should I go to sick call?
A. Before you go to sick call, you should call your supervisor and the clinic and ask for instructions. Based on your symptoms, they will provide the guidance you need.
Q. How does COVID-19 affect pregnant Airmen from being able to do their job?
A We should all be doing our job, while at the same time practicing social-distancing, telework if feasible, and other precautions that we all should be taking.
Q. If I have a handwritten prescription, does that mean I will have to wait in line at the pharmacy drive thru to drop it off then again when my prescription is ready for pick-up?
A. Yes, you will have to drop off the prescription first, and then return to pick it up later. There are two lines at the Kittyhawk pharmacy – one for prescription drop-off, and one for pickup. This should reduce the amount of time that you are waiting in line.
Q. I have an upcoming appointment, do I still come?
A. We are working to convert as many appointments to telephonic, video or other types of consultations. If you do not receive a call, your appointment is still valid and you should keep it.
Q. How is the base checking each employee’s temperature upon arrival to work per Gov. DeWine’s direction?
A. Gov. DeWine clarified that this is a recommendation as there are not enough thermometers available for every business or institution to implement this. We have asked commanders, if they can procure thermometers, to institute this practice. This process is being used at the Medical Center for staff, visitors and patients.
Q. Will cancer patients with parking be allowed to enter through the back entrance for cancer treatment?
A. We are consolidating entrances to help ensure the health and safety our patrons. The main entrance next to the atrium is for visitors and patients. To help with access, we have increased the number of handicapped parking space in front of the emergency room. There is also a drive-up circle in front of the atrium where patrons can be dropped off.
Q. There has been a case in the UK of a new mother and her newborn baby both testing positive after the delivery, so what is being done at WPAFB to ensure expectant mothers and newborns remain safe and healthy?
A. There has been no indication in the limited studies so far that indicate possible transmission before delivery from the mother to the baby. We are prepared to take care of deliveries and implement all precautions necessary to ensure a safe delivery.
Q. Has there been any updates about food guidance? The last update was a couple of weeks ago and simply said to wear gloves when serving food?
A. At this point there is no indication that COVID-19 can be transmitted via food. We do recommend frequent hand washing, sanitization of utensils and work areas and wearing gloves when serving/preparing food.
Q. Is there any guidance on pregnant women continuing patient care?
A. While the CDC has said that pregnant women are at a little higher risk for any viruses they may encounter like influenza, there is not an increased risk for exposure to COVID-19. If you have questions, please call your provider at 937-257-1938.
Q. What symptoms should we be looking for in children? Are they different from adults?
A. The symptoms are generally similar between children and adults. Children may exhibit symptoms that resemble a minor cold, runny nose or diarrhea
Q: To avoid unnecessary travel into the medical center, will phone appointments/consults for routine medication refills be allowed? What about new prescriptions?
A: The Wright-Patterson Medical Center does conduct telephone appointments and consults. If patients need an appointment and would like to be considered for a telephone or virtual appointment/consult, they should request that when calling the appointment line. In addition, routine prescription medication refills can also be requested by checking the number of refills on their prescription bottle and calling the refill line at 937-257-9016 to activate a refill. All prescriptions are filled at the Kittyhawk Pharmacy, which is now drive through only, and can after 2 duty days. The Kittyhawk Pharmacy is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. If a doctor sends a new prescription to the pharmacy through the electronic system, patients may call the pharmacy at 937-656-1656 to activate their new prescription over the phone.
Q: Is precaution being taken for people that are returning to work that just returned from travel to high-risk areas in CONUS or OCONUS?
A: Out of an abundance of caution, TRICARE beneficiaries who have returned from travel to one of the CDC Level III areas (China, Italy, Iran, South Korea) and ARE NOT experiencing symptoms, are asked to remain at home and restrict their movements for 14 days after travel. In addition to keeping their chain of command informed, they should call the Wright Patterson Medical Center appointment line at 937-522-2778 for public health tracking purposes. For those TRICARE beneficiaries who have returned from travel to one of the CDC Level III areas (China, Italy, Iran, South Korea) and ARE experiencing symptoms (eg. fever, cough, shortness of breath), are asked to remain at home and call the Wright Patterson Medical Center appointment line at 937-522-2778 for further guidance.
Q: To avoid unnecessary travel into the medical center, will phone appointments/consults for routine medication refills be allowed?
A: The Wright-Patterson Medical Center does conduct telephone appointments and consults. If patients need an appointment and would like to be considered for a telephone or virtual appointment/consult, they should request that when calling the appointment line. In addition, routine prescription medication refills can also be requested by checking the number of refills on their prescription bottle and calling the refill line at 937-257-9016 to activate a refill. Refill prescriptions are filled at the Kittyhawk Pharmacy and can be picked up through its' drive-through thru window after 2 duty days. Kittyhawk drive-thru hours are Monday through Friday 0800-1800. If your doctor sends a new prescription to the pharmacy through the electronic system, patients may call the pharmacy at 937-656-1656 to activate their new prescription over the phone.
Q: What is the guidance on what to do if an employee or employee family member exhibits the symptoms described in the pamphlets that have been distributed during business hours/after business hours (i.e. fever, cough or difficulty breathing). Does the procedure vary for military or civilian/dependent children/infants?
A: TRICARE Beneficiaries who are experiencing symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) should call the Wright Patterson Medical Center appointment line at 937-522-2778 for further guidance. Based on travel history, symptoms, potential contact with COVID-19/Coronavirus patients, patients may be directed for self-care at home, scheduled for an appointment, or directed to the emergency department. Active Duty members also have the option to utilize the MDG Sick Call Clinic from 0700-0800, Monday thru Friday in the BLUE Clinic. During after duty hours, TRICARE beneficiaries can call the 24/7 Nurse Advice Line at 1-800-TRICARE (874-2273), option 1 for guidance related to their care. Regardless of time of day, medical emergencies should visit the nearest emergency room.
Q: Should any employee stay home/self-quarantine (and for how long) if he or she exhibits these symptoms?
A: TRICARE Beneficiaries who are experiencing symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) should call the Wright Patterson Medical Center appointment line at 937-522-2778 for further guidance. Based on travel history, symptoms, potential contact with COVID-19/Corona Virus patients, patients may be directed for self-care at home, scheduled for an appointment, or directed to the emergency department.
Q: What is the criteria for an employee to try to get tested for COVID-19 and where/when?
A: The decision to test a patient for COVID-19/Coronavirus can only be made by a medical authority and is based on a variety of factors such as underlying pre-existing health conditions, travel history, contact with confirmed COVID-19 patients, and the presence of symptoms. Testing is not indicated or recommended for asymptomatic patients (patients without symptoms) regardless of travel history or exposure. This is because a negative test in an asymptomatic patient would not rule out an incubating virus and would falsely reassure a patient, their family, and their treating provider.
Q: As this continues to spread and there is a greater likelihood of others getting this virus, I was wondering if one does contract this virus & recovers…can you get it again?
A: Although we can’t be 100% positive, you should be protected in the short term if you have been infected with COVID-19. How long that immunity persists is an unknown however. Immunity to a certain virus can wane (just as antibody protection from immunization). People can get influenza over and over again because there are different strains and immunity to one type of influenza doesn’t protect against others. It also mutates which is what results in a new flu season on a yearly basis. When the mutations are small, we generally have mild flu seasons but when the virus has significant change, it corresponds with a worsening flu season.
Q: Does the 88th Med Group have the capability to in house, administer COVID-19 testing, evaluate that test, and diagnose?
A: Yes, the 88 MDG can administer the test to their beneficiaries but cannot administer tests based solely on a patients desire to be tested. The decision to test a patient can only be made by a medical authority and is based on a variety of factors such as underlying pre-existing health conditions, travel history, contact with confirmed COVID-19 patients, and other specific criteria. Once the decision has been made to administer the COVID-19/Coronavirus test, samples are taken from the Wright-Patterson Medical Center and sent out for testing. Once a positive test result is confirmed, the diagnosis and recommendation for treatment is made by the Wright-Patterson Medical Center to the patient.
Q: I have COPD-(Chronic Bronchitis). Should I be concerned about daily routine in the work place? I frequently wash hands using the 20 second method and keep a safe distance from co-workers.
A: Precautions should always be taken if a person’s immune system is compromised. You are already practicing good habits in line with CDC recommendations.
Q: Is there a possibility that the WPAFB medical center would only focus care only on active-duty and send dependents to local economy medical facilities?
A: There are no plans at this time for Wright-Patterson Medical Center to only focus on medical care for active-duty members.
Q: How is the hospital preparing? (Examples: Precautionary measures? Separate entrance for those possibly affected? Testing capabilities, how many COVID19 tests are on hand? Intensive care capacity? Will active duty members be able to be admitted to civilian hospitals if necessary to reduce strain on base resources? Does the hospital have a sufficient stock of masks, hand sanitizer, patient gowns, and protective suits for doctors and nurses?)
A: At this time, the hospital is evaluating all policies, procedures, resources, and plans for viral outbreaks in order to appropriately respond to the current situation. Changes will be implemented as appropriate as this situation dictates for the safety of our patients and our staff.
Q: If you are showing symptoms of the Corona Virus, what should you do? Call for an appointment? Go to the ER? I’m a senior citizen, and my PCM is at Wright-Patt. It’s impossible to get a same day appointment, or even talk to my PCM or their staff. So what are we supposed to do?
A: TRICARE Beneficiaries who are experiencing symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) should call the Wright-Patterson Medical Center appointment line at 937-522-2778 for further guidance.Based on travel history, symptoms, potential contact with COVID-19/Coronavirus patients, patients may be directed for self-care at home, scheduled for an appointment, or directed to the emergency department.
Q: I read an article about COVID-19. I’m sure it’s speculation but, what is your opinion on if COVID-19 will end like flu season?
A: It would be difficult to accurately predict the end of this particular outbreak at this time.
Q. What can you do about lack of VPN connections?
A. We have gone from 60,000 to over 110,000 connections, which should make it easier to connect and work.
Q. What are doing about phone lines? It seems things are always busy.
A. We have doubled the number of lines to over 1,500.
Q. Why is the network so slow – on base or VPN?
A. We have expanded our gateway to 10 gigabits per second. This should alleviate many of the problems people are having.
Q. What capabilities are available right now for teleworkers and on-base users to collaborate, transfer files or video conferencing?
A. We have provided a list of approved available tools for collaboration suite solutions as well telework capabilities. These documents are on the Coronavirus web page at www.wpafb.af.mil/coronavirus. On the right side, look for the menu item "Employee Resources". We will be updating these documents on a regular basis, so check the site often for the latest information.
Q. I am teleworking but keep having problems either connecting to the VPN or if I am connected, getting disconnected. I understand we are all experiencing an event that no one had anticipated however, for us to continue to do our job, will this be an ongoing issue and if so, in order for me to do my job, is there an alternate solution like staggered work schedules?
A. The current VPN was not initially constructed to handle this amount of demand from across the USAF. We have increased the available connections 10,000 to over 100,000 Air Force wide. Other options include Outlook Web Access, SharePoint, etc. that do not require VPN. If you can, work with your organization to try and work outside the hours of 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. which are the highest point of saturation. You may have more luck connecting early morning or late evening as the overall demand should diminish.
Q. We are trying to teleconference, but keep getting busy signals. What can be done?
A. We have increased the number of lines on base to about 1,500. This should alleviate much of the difficulty in obtaining a connection.
Q. Does teleworking from home and possibly using personal computers put the network at risk?
A. Yes, it can, but this can be mitigated. The DoD has just renewed their free antivirus home use program. You can download the software to use on your personal computer. More information and download instructions can be found at https://www.disa.mil/NewsandEvents/2020/anti-virus-software-teleworkers
Also remember OPSEC, and to not download PII or FOUO materials to a personal computer.
Q. Is there going to be additional delays to fitness testing?
A. Fitness Assessments and diagnostic testing will resume once the local health and safety conditions allow. All commander’s exemptions for the months of March, April, and May have been entered into the AF Fitness Management System (AFFMS) and we are awaiting further AF direction for the June Fitness Assessments. These assessments have not yet been exempted and will proceed as planned unless directed otherwise.
Q. Is military clothing open for fittings to get OCPs?
A. Military Clothing Sales is open and available to assist customers with uniform needs. To contact them, please call 937-257-2800.
Q. What is the definition of “local area” when it comes to leave?
A. Local area is defined at the area where an individual commutes on a day-to-day basis from their residence to their place of work. Military members must limit their travel to those areas, including on weekends.
Q. Since most of the base has already begun to operate with minimum manning, why has there been no decrease in personnel required for EAGLs (aka gate guard) duty?
A. Since we’ve reduced the number of gates that are open, we have been able to curtail the requirement for EAGLs and those Airmen are now back with their unit.
CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTER QUESTIONS
Q. When looking at what kids are coming back, are you prioritizing it by their classroom or by the need as a whole? Meaning could the children end up in a different class/CDC?
A. When the CDC open back up there will be list of priorities: mission essential, single military parent, CDC staff, and dual military parents to start. Children could be in a different facility, classroom and/or a different teacher.
Q. Will we be notified and when we can return back to the CDC, what category we are in?
A. Yes, the CDC staff will contact parents.
Q. Summer program: How is school age program for the summer being handled? If they meet the criteria set forth today (single parents, mil to mil, etc.) but have not previously signed up, will they move ahead of people who have already signed up for care? Will priority be given to those who are currently signed up for summer care?
A. The Force Support Squadron has not determined how the CDC Summer Program will be run at this time. They are currently working towards basic child care before they determine how the Summer Program will be run.
Q: Is there going to be a policy to address payment (charges or refunds) for parents who were directed to telework to encourage social distancing and took their children out of the CDC to decrease social interaction as recommended?
A: If you haven’t yet, you will soon receive a refund for unused child care. In addition, you will also not be charged moving forward until our CDCs return to normal operation.
Q: Why aren’t you addressing how social distancing is working with children and employees at the CDC?
A: We have reduced the number of children in each room in order to be able to have the recommended social distancing.
Q: I'm considered mission essential, but there are no CDC slots open. What are my options?
A: We've posted a list of Ohio approved pandemic child care providers on the Wright-Patterson web site. You can view the list by clicking here.
Q: What is the CDC telling parents/guardians regarding procedures?
A: Parents, children and teachers are required to wash their hands upon entering the classrooms.
- Teachers perform head to toe wellness checks as they greet each child to ensure there are not any health concerns before parents leave their child in care.
- Children must be fever free for 24 hours prior to returning to care.
- The presence of a communicable conditions or disease is the most common reason for a child being excluded from child care.
- When signs and/or symptoms associated or directly related to a communicable or contagious conditions/disease are present.
- When a child’s condition compromises the health and safety of others in care.
- When an illness prevents the child from participating in any/all the activities in the program.
- When the child requires greater care than the child care staff can provide.
Q. What kind of legal services are available?
Legal assistance services are currently limited to deployment-related support, issues related to impacts of COVID-19, and other emergency legal issues. If you have a qualifying situation, please contact the legal office at 937-257-6142 or 88ABW.JA@us.af.mil for assistance.
Q. When will the fitness centers open?
A. The Force Support Squadron is looking at opening all facilities, however how and when is still being determined. The Force Support Squadron, like the rest of Wright Patterson, is exploring the best and safest way to open facilities in accordance with guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Ohio Governor, and 88 ABW/CC. The Fitness Centers will be opened in gradual phases at a later date.
Q. Is AFIT staying online for the fall too?
A. AFIT is continuing to review and assess how it will hold its upcoming classes as it moves forward based on Col. Sherman’s 3-phase plan. Details will be released as they are made available. Please continue to check AFIT’s website for updates: https://www.afit.edu/page.cfm?page=1651.
Q. Can the FSS team update info on their FB page?
A. When the Force Support Squadron has information about facilities opening, they will post it on their Facebook and Web pages:
Q. Any word on FAMCAMP opening?
A. The Force Support Squadron is looking at opening all facilities, however how and when FAMCAMP will be back up for full operation is still being determined. FSS, like the rest of Wright Patterson, is exploring the best and safest way to open facilities in accordance with guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Ohio Governor, and the 88th ABW commander.
Q. When will the golf courses on base re-open?
A. The Force Support Squadron continues to move ahead with a phased reopening of certain base recreation activities. In all cases, re-openings are subject to positive trends in COVID-19 infections in the state and local area. The squadron plans to open Twin Base golf course and the driving ranges in mid-May with restrictions. Social distancing protocols will be paramount at all locations: all golf play arranged in advance via tee times with limits on cart usage (one person per cart and paid for in advance). Customers will be required to wear face masks when physically interacting with FSS personnel.
Q. Is it true that Bldg. 262 is moving forward with renovations instead of using money to sanitize the building and redesign cubicle setup for safe distancing? Will the cubes be redesigned?
A. It is true that the HQ AFMC Campus Renovation design continues, as does the cleaning of Buildings 262 and 266 in preparation for our personnel to begin transitioning back to a safe work environment. The design process continues because the design contract was funded/awarded in June 2019 from the Air Force Facility Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization (FSRM) account. Cleaning/sanitizing the buildings and rearranging systems furniture are not permitted to be funded from this pot of money. Given the issues that Bldgs. 262 and 266 present us with today, to include water intrusion, HVAC failures, etc., the pandemic has not changed the fact that these issues need to be addressed via the planned renovation in order to provide an improved and safe working environment for building occupants.
Additionally, we are working to incorporate any late-breaking requirements that may have resulted from our current COVID-19 environment.For example, if increased long-term teleworking (beyond the pandemic) is an option that an organization in the building wants to pursue, we will make sure the design facilitates that organization’s decision to implement that policy.
Our primary goal in this renovation project is to ensure we provide the proper space for all of our mission partners.We are continuing to pursue that goal today by incorporating as much flexibility throughout the design as possible so that these buildings can serve the installation for another 50 years.
Q. Is AFIT staying online for the fall too?
A. AFIT is continuing to review and assess how it will hold its upcoming classes as it moves forward based on Col. Sherman’s 3-phase plan. Details will be released as they are made available. Please continue to check AFIT’s website for updates: https://www.afit.edu/page.cfm?page=1651.
Q. How and how often will they clean work spaces and restrooms? Twice weekly bathroom cleaning is not going to cut it.
A. Workspace cleaning is the responsibility of the occupant and/or organization to ensure each area is kept sanitized, especially for the high touch point areas that will need to be sanitized more often. The Civil Engineer Group and Base Contracting are working to modify the custodial contracts to provide daily restroom cleaning, with the goal to have the contracts modified and in place shortly after the work force transitions to the Phase 2 Execution for the Return to Full Capacity.
Q: What if the Government closes a facility or installation due to COVID-19? Should the Government issue work stoppage to contractors?
A: No. We do not direct the contractor to stop work solely because its employee(s) have been ordered into quarantine. If contractor personnel cannot access their location of work, we direct them to their supervisor. It is up to the contractor to direct the actions of their employees. Depending on the type of contract work, some contracts have alternate locations provided by the contractor for the purpose of continuing to perform contract tasks. Do not direct the contractors to stop working. Do not issue a stop work order because it may negate the government’s sovereign act making the government responsible for costs. (Consider flexible telework if in contract, see FAR 7.108)
Q: Do Contractors have any input into whether or not they want their employee(s) to continue working through a state of emergency or are they just subject to Government direction?
A: There are several things to consider. Are they following government guidance? (e.g. CDC guidelines for how many people in a room) Are they claiming ‘Force Majeure’ (unforeseeable circumstance which prevent someone from fulfilling their contract: wars, weather, pandemic, quarantine, etc)? The CO should likely anticipate a Request for Equitable Adjustment / extension. The contractor should notify the CO if this is the scenario and provide substantiating evidence. How they manage their business and performance is primarily up to them unless you know they are violating a term or condition of the contract.
Q. Question: What does the government do if it is told or suspects a contractor is infected by COVID-19?
A. The CO must coordinate with installation medical personnel for a determination if the contractor employee should be removed from the workplace and the installation. The commander may issue the appropriate temporary bar letter, until such time as the contract employee is cleared by medical personnel to return to work. As for the contract, the CO should notify the contractor that the contractor employee is temporarily barred from work on the installation. Many contracts have the AFFARS 5352.223-9001, Health and Safety on Government Installations, contained in their contracts. It requires contractors to take reasonable steps and precautions to preserve health of the people working on the contract, gives the CO authority to order Air Force Occupational Safety and Health (AFOSH) Standards (and pay for additional protections) under the Changes clause, and authority to terminate the contract if not followed. If warranted, the CO should discuss with the contractor plans for continued performance. The government is not responsible for the cost of quarantine or medical care; that is between the contract employee and his/her contract employer. *Note, proactive Contracting Officers may contact companies and discuss procedures if an employee has been overseas, in contact with an ill person, or is feeling ill themselves before coming to an Air Force installation. Nothing prevents discussion that contractors should not present at the AF facility and should consider telework or other options in that situation.
Q: Command is in the process of identifying “mission essential” personnel that will still work if non-mission essential personnel have to shelter in place at residences or evacuate. The CO wants to ensure contractor support even if the installation goes to mission essential only.
A. Check to see if your contract is mission essential. If not, a modification may be appropriate, however, mods may have scope and cost implications that need to be evaluated on a case by case basis by PMs and PCOs per 5 Mar 2020 Memo from OSD Pricing and Contracting Director:
https://www.acq.osd.mil/dpap/policy/policyvault/Continuation_of_Essential_Contractor_Services_DPC.pdf The relevant clauses include DFARS 252.237-7024 and DFARS 252.237-7023, as prescribed at DFARS 237.7603
It is important to differentiate between truly mission essential contract activities, and operationally necessary contract activities. Contracts that have been designated mission essential include very specific activities which we have deemed mission essential, which require the specific DFARS clause, and include additional responsibilities for the contractor. If, upon review, we find that a particular contract activity should have been determined mission essential, but was not, then it would be appropriate to modify the contract to make it mission essential. However, we may determine that certain contract activities do not rise to the level that we want to make them mission essential for all purposes, but that we determine in the particular circumstances that the contract activity is operationally necessary. This, of course, would be a case-by-case determination.
Q: In the event of mandatory quarantines, can bases use contractors to perform security of the quarantine?
A. 10 U.S.C 2465 prohibits use of contractors for security guard functions. Nothing in FAR Part 18 allows us to ignore this in the face of a contingency. Presidential authority to suspend the title 10 provision may be given under 50 U.S.C. 1431, and has been authorized for DoD so long as the SECAF deems that such action will facilitate the national defense (Ex. Ord. 10789). Any contract awarded under that provision could not exceed $50K without Assistant Secretary approval, and could not exceed $25M without notifying the Committees of Armed Services in Congress. 50 U.S.C. 1432 states restrictions to the use of this authority and does not mention security. Two different ways to look at this would be that the function sought is not “security guard” duty and therefore prohibition doesn’t apply at all; or, pandemic/quarantine is not sufficiently related to national defense, and therefore there is no authority to bypass the prohibition.
Q: Can contractors be treated at the local medical treatment facility if they show signs of infection?
A: No, unless the DoD puts out direction that contractors can get tested at its base MTFs, contractors need to follow local health guidelines and ensure their people are tested off-base. In some cases like the Hospital Aseptic Maintenance Contract which provides housekeeping services for AF Medical Treatment Facilities, including treatment areas, the contract provides that the MTF can assess the individual and provide initial treatment due to the concern for insuring that maintenance workers are safe and for insuring that such workers do not spread the disease to AF patients.
Q: What steps can be taken if Installation Health Protection Condition (HPCON) levels warrant increased routine cleaning inside of facilities? B) Can you use your existing custodial services contract to “clean/sanitize” a facility where there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19?
A: There are two courses of action available: 1. For routine environmental cleaning in workstation areas, we recommend you direct government employees to clean all frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, tables, desks, and handrails using an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered disinfectant. The disinfectant list is maintained on the EPA website at https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2. For restroom cleaning, there are two options available: Direct uniformed military members to clean all restroom surfaces and fixtures using EPA-registered disinfectants. Members must wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) while they perform these actions. Or increased restroom cleaning may be accomplished using your existing custodial services contract. This may be exercised in facilities where there is a higher risk for spread of infection. Cleaning frequencies may be increased up to five times per week in facilities you deem appropriate. Through your contracting office, consider a temporary rebalancing of cleaning frequency within the existing contract (no-cost modification) for these higher risk facilities, and reducing cleaning frequency in other lower risk or closed facilities. If this rebalancing is not available, existing contracts may require a modification to accommodate this additional workload. Additionally, if not using the AFIMSC standard performance work statement (PWS) template for custodial services, ensure that the existing contract directs that an EPA-registered disinfectant is used by the contractor.
For emergency facility cleaning due to a confirmed case of COVID-19 a modification to the existing custodial service contract will likely be required.
Q: Can the Air Force direct contractors to comply with a Continuation of Mission Essential Services contract clause notwithstanding a state/county/city shelter in place order?
A: The Air Force should coordinate any such direction with state/county/local officials to ensure an exception to any shelter in place order would be recognized. This would be important not only to protect the employee from any sanction, but also to moot any possible voiding of any insurance coverage should the employee be injured or become sick or die as a result of performance of the government contract notwithstanding any shelter in place order.
As a citizen of state/county/city, a contractor employee would be subject to the lawful orders, regulations, and directions of local government. However, a state/county/city shelter in place order that ordinarily would apply to that employee, it also likely would burden the federal government that has a contract under which the employee has obligations. Cf. United States v. New Mexico, 455 U.S. 720, 735 n.11, 102 S. Ct. 1373, 1383 (1982) (state action concerning federal government contractors is invalid if it “substantially interfere[s] with [federal] activities.”). “Courts have consistently held that any state law that impedes the federal government's ability to contract . . . are preempted.”
Student Loan Servicing All. v. District of Columbia, 351 F. Supp. 3d 26, 62 (D.D.C. 2018). A shelter in place order would frustrate the federal government’s operations, activities, and contract’s purpose. This a state cannot do.
Q: Are Contractors who use Government-owned computers on base permitted to take them off base for telework purposes? If so, what actions should be taken by the Contracting Officer? Once off base, can Contractors utilize VPN capabilities?
A: While not prohibited, it is recommended that the CO check the PWS/SOW for language to support this. Often times a requirement exists in the PWS/SOW whether the government is required to provide tools, equipment, and other support necessary to perform the job duties. Equipment assigned is typically tracked via hand receipt documentation (AF Form IMT 1297) in accordance with AFI-23-111. CO’s should also be familiar with FAR Part 7.108 which states that “an agency shall generally not discourage a contractor from allowing its employees to telecommute in the performance of Government contracts.” Keep in mind Contractors should be making this determination for their employees and have a pre-existing plan in place to execute telework.
Note that government property is typically accountable under the GFP clause of the contract. FAR Part 45 prescribes policies and procedures for providing Government Property to contractors. However, per 45.000 (b) (5) it does not apply to “Government property that is incidental to the place of performance, when the contract requires contractor personnel to be located on a Government site or installation, and when the property used by the contractor within the location remains accountable to the Government. Items considered to be incidental to the place of performance include, for example, office space, desks, chairs, telephones, computers, and fax machines.” If the property being provided was incidental on the onset of the contract, it can remain as such. There would be no need for the CO to revise and/or amend the GFP list to account for equipment that the contractor is utilizing off base.
Yes, Contractors can access the VPN network. The VPN Capability is available to all unclassified AF network computers. The user would need an active government issued CAC card to access, of which any A&AS and/or support contractors working on government installations are provided in order to perform normal day to day operations required of their contracts.