He also said on-base gatherings will be restricted from 50 people to 10.
“One of the things I’m implementing is, as installation commander is, on the installation, gatherings will be restricted back down from 50 to 10,” Miller said. “Whether you’re inside or outside, gatherings will be restricted to 10 or less people.”
Ohio’s largest single-site employer, Wright-Patterson has been largely closed down to on-site work for the past eight months of the global COVID-19 pandemic, with only 10% of the base’s typical 30,000 workers permitted to be physically on base in the pandemic’s earliest weeks.
By May, mission commanders were allowed to bring up to 20% of their assigned workforce back to base offices. Most workers continued — and continue, to this day — to work from home or elsewhere.
In mid-June, when Miller was named base commander, there were about 430-plus daily Ohio cases of COVID, he observed.
On Monday, Ohio surpassed 300,000 total cases of coronavirus after reporting 7,268 new daily cases, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
“That’s a far cry from the 400-plus cases just five months ago,” Miller said.
Why the increase? Miller and Lt. Col. (Dr.) Michael Crowder, the base’s public health emergency officer, pointed to cooler temperatures, people spending more time inside — and COVID fatigue.
Crowder told listeners that all counties surrounding the base are “red,” indicating high community exposure everywhere.
“The percentage of positive cases tested on Wright-Patterson is very low compared to our outside communities,” Crowder said. “It’s about three or four times lower than our outside communities.”
“We’re starting to get a little bit complacent," Miller said. “We want to get our lives back to normal. We want to go to those big events, those large gatherings.”
That “complacency” has enabled COVID — which Miller called “our enemy of the day” — “to creep into our lives and come at us full-force, in a tidal wave, if you will.”
The colonel also stressed the imperative to minimize gatherings and social gatherings. The Air Base Wing has pushed back a “mayors and managers” gathering, and the wing will not be having a pot luck meal next week, he said.
Said Miller, “Because it’s the right thing to do. It’s up to us to set the example.”