Wright-Patt to allow 50% of workers back on base beginning Monday

U.S. Air Force Col. Patrick Miller, 88th Air Base Wing commander, delivers remarks after accepting command during a change of command ceremony inside the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, June 12, 2020. Col. Miller replaced Col. Thomas Sherman. This year's change of command ceremony was different from years past with no more than 50 people in attendance but instead broadcasted live over social media and no contact between principles due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wesley Farnsworth)

Credit: Wesley Farnsworth

Credit: Wesley Farnsworth

Ohio’s biggest single-site employer ready to move toward 15K workers

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is ready to gradually welcome more workers on base, moving toward hosting half of the base’s typical daily working population, the base commander said Wednesday.

“I know we’re ready to make the transition from health protection condition ‘Charlie’ to health protection condition ‘Bravo,’” said Col. Patrick Miller, commander of the 88th Air Base Wing and the installation commander at Wright-Patterson.

He made the announcement in a Facebook town hall Wednesday afternoon.

“Folks, we’re ready,” Miller said. “We’re ready because of you.”

The change will be effective Monday. However, Miller took pains to emphasize that: “This is not a rush to having 50% of our workforce back.”

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With up to half of the base’s typical workforce being permitted to return, that could eventually boost the daily presence on the base to 15,000 or so workers.

Said Miller, “This is all driven by mission, and mission (commanders) will make the call.”

He said he and his fellow base leaders are ready to “support” offices and units that are comfortable bringing more workers on base. And he stressed that face coverings will be required, as will physical distancing. Groups and gatherings of more than 50 people in one space or area will not be allowed.

Ohio’s largest single-site employer, the base has been largely closed down for the past six months of the global COVID-19 pandemic, with only 10 percent of the base’s typical 30,000 workers permitted to be physically on base in the pandemic’s early weeks.

By May, commanders and directors were allowed to bring up to 20% of their assigned workforce back to Wright-Patterson offices.

But as Miller said Wednesday: “The winds are changing."

The change in health protection condition will come with an array of associated changes, including new facility gates opening and new hours at those gates, compared to the status quo of the past six months. Base recreational facilities and clubs will begin to open as well, with their own specific requirements.

Masks will continue to be required in the base commissary, exchange and other facilities. In-church services on the base are scheduled to resume on Oct. 4.

Air Force physical training or PT tests have been postponed to January, said Chief Master Sgt. Jason Shaffer, but he urged listeners to focus on their fitness nevertheless.

Miller warned that there is a potential to revert to health protection condition “Charlie.” A “massive uprising” in cases across the base could force that, he said.

“But it’s not going to happen if you do the right thing. Together, we’re going to succeed,” the commander said.

Asked how long the base will remain in condition “Bravo,” Miller urged viewers to be patient. “We’re going to be there for a spell.”

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