WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — Base Commander Patrick Miller held a Facebook town hall Wednesday afternoon addressing the recent COVID-19 cases at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The colonel confirmed previous reports that three individuals, all employees of the Child Development Center, had contracted the coronavirus.
The employee in question developed symptoms over the weekend, and did not come to work the following Monday. Once the employee tested positive, contact tracing revealed 38 others had come into contact with the infected individual.
“It’s not a surprise we’re starting to see an uptick on the installation,” said Miller. “This is trending exactly with our local community. Off-base, folks are getting more comfortable. Folks are starting to go around without masks. This is creating an environment where we’re expect to see an uptick in cases.”
Miller went on to say the first person with a positive COVID case contracted the virus from a source external to the base. The two individuals that subsequently tested positive were infected as a direct result of contact with the first person.
Base leadership had previously been in discussion about moving the base’s health protection condition level (HPCon) from Charlie down to Bravo. At this point, Miller says, that is no longer the case.
“As we monitor the situation on and off base I fully expect, as things start to normalize again, we will progress into our next health protection condition phase in the near future. Right now, we need to wait and watch,” he said.
Miller and other public health officials both on and off base certainly have much to keep an eye on. Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have steadily risen across the state of Ohio and across the country, as businesses and public amenities reopen to the public.
Col. Michael Foutch reported an increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations at Wright-Patt Medical Center.
“Part of this increase can be attributed to a significant increase in testing across Ohio and across the nation, but that does not account for the entire increase in positive cases,” said Foutch. “Most of the cases are a result of off-base transmission.”
The Wright Field North and South child care facilities will remain closed for the rest of this week. No personnel who has been in contact with a COVID-19 positive individual will be allowed back on base for at least 14 days. The other CDC facilities will continue to operate as normal under limited capacity.
Miller emphasized the importance of wearing protective equipment and engaging in hygienic practices like handwashing and social distancing for both the military and civilians. The colonel said he wears a mask not only when he is at work, but also when he is out in public.
“I do this for you, and I ask that you do this for me,” said Miller. “Do it for your family. Do this for your friends, and your peers. If you’re coming in to work, bring your mask.”