WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — Commander of the 88th Air Base Wing, Col. Patrick Miller, announced on Monday that Wright-Patterson Air Force Base would remain at Health Protection Condition (HPCON) Bravo, despite soaring cases of COVID-19 in the surrounding communities. Though the current COVID-19 situation at Wright-Patt does not warrant an escalation to HPCON Charlie, ABW leaders have announced increased restrictions in light of record-breaking coronavirus numbers in the Miami Valley.
Miller and his team discussed several elements of Wright-Patterson’s coronavirus response during the Nov. 16 town hall. The installation has not been immune to the wave of new coronavirus cases in the state. However, base transmission is three to four times lower than transmission in the community, according to Public Health Emergency Officer Dr. Michael Crowder. Most on-base cases are due to close-contact situations and individuals quarantining together. If community spread does not slow, Miller said, the base may be forced to return to a higher Health Protection level.
“We’re getting complacent,” Miller said. “We want to get our lives back to normal. Unfortunately, that complacency, in this changed environment, has allowed our enemy of the day (COVID) to creep back into our lives and come at us full force.”
New restrictions on airmen include restricting social gatherings back down from 50 to 10, preferably with those in or close to a person’s household. ABW meetings will now be conducted exclusively in a virtual manner. Wright-Patterson already has a mandatory mask order for all airmen on the installation.
“We are doing the right thing on base,” Miller said.
The Little Heroes program, intended to honor the children of military members whose parents have deployed, has been delayed until the spring. The annual tree lighting, which occurs on Dec. 2, has been modified so that attendees must stay in their vehicles.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Miller said. “It’s up to us to set the example, to be the role models, and to do the right thing.”
Col. Christian Lyons, Commander of the 88th ABW Medical Group, said that demand for COVID testing at Wright-Patterson has also significantly increased. The Medical Center staff conducts 24 COVID tests in an hour, roughly 170 tests in a day. Lyons encouraged military members who need a COVID test to schedule one in advance.
“WPAFB personnel should be a beacon in the community and set an example for best behavior,” said Capt. Stephanie Croyle, Public Health officer in a news release. “We are asking that you ask yourself, ‘Is there anything I could have done better today to slow the spread?’”
Reach London Bishop at (937) 502-4532
or follow @LBishopFDH on Twitter