Wright-Patterson makes headway in battle against COVID

Col. Patrick Miller, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander, holds a virtual commander’s call on Feb. 11 to update Team Wright-Patt on current topics and issues of concern. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/CHRISTOPHER WARNER

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Col. Patrick Miller, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander, holds a virtual commander’s call on Feb. 11 to update Team Wright-Patt on current topics and issues of concern. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/CHRISTOPHER WARNER

Gathering ceiling raised, with child care ratios being modified

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is making headway in the war against the global pandemic — and the base is in the “right place to open things up just a bit,” the installation commander said Wednesday.

The base will loosen limits on gatherings, mirroring the state’s own relaxation of certain rules. Gatherings of up to 50 will be allowed, up from the previous limit of 10, said Col. Patrick Miller, commander of the 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patterson.

Face coverings and the usual precautions continue to be emphasized.

“You’re doing an awesome job; you’re crushing the mission; keep it up,” Miller said in a Facebook live event Wednesday afternoon.

On Feb. 25, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine allowed sporting and entertainment events to reopen with 25% maximum indoor capacity and 30% maximum outdoor capacity.

And restrictions will be relaxed on some activities across the base. Some staff-child ratios at child development centers will be raised for some age groups, said Col. Paul Burger, commander of the 88th Mission Support Group.

Fitness center restrictions will not be raised, Burger said. But one fitness center, the Dodge center, will be reopened, he said.

Wright-Patterson remains in its current health protection condition, allowing commanders to return up to half of their typical workforce to the base if they deem that necessary.

The base has dispensed more than 13,600 COVID vaccines and ranks No. 1 within the Air Force in the number of people who have received both doses, some 6,500 people, Miller said.

Col. Christian Lyons, 88th Medical Group commander, said the base ranks No. 2 in the Air Force overall with the number of shots given.

However, the base has exhausted its supply of vaccines and leaders are uncertain when more doses will be delivered. “We hope to have more doses soon,” Lyons said.

Currently, doses are reserved for those who are considered mission-critical and those 75 and older. Officers could not say Wednesday when other groups will be permitted to get vaccinated.

DeWine has announced that vaccines will go to Ohioans ages 60 and older starting Thursday, a group includes about 695,000 eligible state residents.

Miller advised those listening not to wait. “If you can get a vaccine (elsewhere), get a vaccine.”

The colonel said base leaders continue to advocate for additional vaccines. “Don’t wait for us. We are doing the best that we can,” he said.

Wright-Patterson has been asked to provide a large group of personnel to support vaccinations in Michigan, which may result in a longer wait for some clinic or medical appointments at the base. “They could be gone for some time,” Lyons said.

Base officers did not know when the Department of Defense will receive the new single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but they do not expect Wright-Patterson to receive it any time soon.

Ohio’s largest single-site employer, much of Wright-Patterson has been closed for almost a year, with the number of personnel permitted on base rising from 10% to 20% of the base’s typical 30,000 workers last May.

Today, commanders are allowed to have up to half of their workforces, but many workers continue to work from home or elsewhere.

Miller assumed command of the 88th Air Base Wing in June.

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