Wright-Patt to remain in HPCON Bravo, Phase 2

Base leaders tout precautions, mitigation efforts

Col. Patrick Miller, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander, discussed the recent uptick of COVID-19 cases on base and says Wright-Patterson will stay in Health Protection Condition Bravo and Phase 2, initiated a month ago as part of its Return to Full Capacity/Capability Plan. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/CHRIS WARNER

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s public health emergency has been extended through February in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but the current operating environment and level of services will remain unchanged, the 88th Air Base Wing commander announced Oct. 21 during a Facebook Live town hall.

Col. Patrick Miller said the installation would stay in Health Protection Condition Bravo and Phase 2, initiated a month ago as part of its Return to Full Capacity/Capability Plan. That increased the workforce’s “ability” to get to 50% and 50-person maximum gatherings on base, he added.

“As projected, we’ve seen some increases in COVID-19 cases this fall,” the base commander said. "This is not out of line with what we’re seeing in the state of Ohio and across the United States. We’re also seeing some increases in hospitalizations. What does that mean for us? I will tell you upfront – we’re still in HPCON Bravo and Phase 2. Assuming we stay on the same path, I don’t intend on changing that. Why?

“Mainly, it’s because of you. I appreciate your moxie, your sustainability and your perseverance in wearing your mask on the installation. Your ability to continue to do the right thing in maintaining physical distancing and still get the mission done. You’re getting after it each and every day.”

Miller said 88th Medical Group officials are monitoring on- and off-base positive cases, COVID and flu-like symptom rates, and hospitalizations. Wright-Patterson Medical Center and area hospitals also have plenty of capacity.

“We’re prepared for this,” he said. "I’m confident we have the right processes, procedures, tools and testing in place to keep you safe whenever you have to come to work. We will do the right thing to take care of our team to take care of you. We have proven we can protect ourselves and each other across the installation.

“However, we are closely watching the situation and prepared to make the appropriate decision if it’s warranted.”

Lt. Col. (Dr.) Michael Crowder, the 88th Medical Group’s public health emergency officer, provided a medical-intelligence update, saying there’s been a “significant uptick” in COVID cases the past few weeks – not only on Wright-Patterson but all its surrounding counties. Clark, Montgomery and Greene counties are in “red” status, indicating increased rates of spread, exposure and encroachment on hospital resources.

“Our current local trends are concerning,” he said. “This has not translated into increased use in (intensive-care units) or critical resources, which is reassuring. However, we’re starting to see ICUs fill up and those critical resources become extremely limited in less-populated states across the Midwest. Locally, we have to avoid this situation.”

Contact tracing, adequate physical-distancing and use of facial coverings have kept transmission on WPAFB to an “absolute minimum,” Crowder added.

Many recent tracked cases originate off base, where simple mitigation measures are sometimes disregarded and not employed.

“We have a window of opportunity to act,” Crowder said, “and it’s our individual actions that will help protect you and the mission here at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.”

Miller said transitioning to HPCON Bravo and Phase 2 was a “tremendous step forward” in the return to full capability, but he urged personnel and families to maintain preventive measures and established protocols as part of a long fight to defeat coronavirus.

“You continue to do the right things,” he said. "We’re the home of the Air Force Marathon. And this response to the pandemic is a marathon, it is not a sprint. We’re not going to be out of this fast. We’re in this for the long haul, so we need to buckle down for this marathon.

“You’re running a great race. Thank you for your due diligence. Our goal is your health and safety.”

Influenza clinic coming

In anticipation of increased complexities and demand due to the onset of flu season, base COVID-19 testing will be conducted by appointment only starting Nov. 1, said Col. Christian Lyons, 88th Medical Group commander. To augment services, an influenza clinic also is being established at the medical center.

For Wright-Patterson Medical Center COVID-19 testing-site information, call 937-522-2480.

For more information

Current medical-intelligence assessments and base services changes will be posted on the Wright-Patterson AFB website, Facebook page and other social media platforms.

To watch the Oct. 21 Facebook town hall, visit www.facebook.com/WPAFB.

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