Area military bases report several cases of COVID-19

 

March 25, 2020

Photo Courtesy Evans Army Community Hospital

A health-care provider at Evans Army Community Hospital demonstrates one of the screening measures now in place for employees entering the hospital.

In the last week, Fort Carson has seen its first four cases of COVID-19 and has made significant changes in protocol and scheduling to prevent further spread of the illness. Other military installations in Colorado Springs also have positive cases.

"To date, over 11,000 individuals have been screened on this post, and that number increases every hour," said U.S. Army Major General Matthew W. McFarlane, Commander, 4ID and Fort Carson. His comments were made during an online town hall Monday evening.

"Our efforts to date have been exceptional, but we still have work to do," he added.

On Sunday, Fort Carson identified a COVID-19 positive Department of the Army civilian nurse who works at Evans Army Community Hospital and is now in isolation at home.

The female healthcare worker, who is in her 60s, has had limited contact with select patients and staff who have been notified and are being monitored by Fort Carson Public Health. She was tested off post and remains off post, McFarlane said.

On Saturday, the Mountain Post received a COVID-19 positive Colorado National Guard Soldier who is now being housed at the Colorado National Guard's 168th Regional Training Institute on Fort Carson. McFarlane said Monday there is a second National Guard soldier who tested positive.


The final case is a civilian dependent who was tested off post and is isolated off post.

Officials say the soldier will remain in isolation in accordance with the Center for Disease Control and Fort Carson Public Health guidelines.

Meanwhile, hundreds of soldiers have reportedly been isolated after returning from trips or assignments.

Also new this week, Fort Carson leadership implemented proactive health risk mitigation measures for its personnel by elevating to Heath Protection Condition Charlie (HPCON C).

Under HPCON-C, Fort Carson will move from Readiness Essential to Readiness Critical operations, which means units will only execute missions that support emergency operations, emergency maintenance, medical operations, and deployment operations as necessary.

The following services and activities are canceled until further notice: school physicals, routine readiness exams (including hearing and dental), training events (except for those defined as readiness critical), and part-day daycare.

The Fort Carson Golf Course and Cheyenne Mountain Shooting Complex are closed.

All Access Control Points remain open at this time; however gates 2,5,6, and 19 may close in the future. Gates 1,3,4, twenty and Visitor Center 3 will remain open for limited installation access. Those entering post will by medically pre-screened with a questionnaire at all gates and at Evans Army Community Hospital before entering.


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The following activities will continue by appointment only: In-and-out processing, Central Issue Facility, Soldier for Life Transition Assistance Program (for those individuals within 60 days of separation), and Soldier Readiness Processing.

There is limited access to the following facilities, services and activities: School-age childcare is reduced to Aspen, and daycare is reduced to Ivy and East Centers. Available slots will be reserved for readiness critical personnel only. Hourly childcare for medical appointments is available on a limited basis. The AAFES Post Exchange and the Fort Carson Commissary will continue to offer a high-risk-only timeframe and an active duty timeframe. Additional restrictions may be implemented later to further limit access to active duty and active duty dependents outside of high-risk times.

Retirees will have limited access to the Post Exchange and Commissary only during high-risk hours. Please see the fact sheet on carson.army.mil for information on access times.

Personnel will direct and observe patrons to wash their hands before entering common facilities including the Post Exchange and Commissary as well as in unit areas.

McFarlane said he said he has witnessed "incorrect habits" that need to be corrected, such as not keeping proper distance between individuals. He acknowledged many of the mandates are inconvenient and disappointing, but encouraged everyone to keep up the effort.


"When called, we will be ready to protect the nation," he said.

Testing centers

Fort Carson has established a Centralized Screening and Testing Center (CSTC) at Evans Army Community Hospital (EACH).

The CSTC, which opened March 19 at the Soldier Family Care Center, will serve as a dedicated, initial-screening and testing center for patients with COVID-19 symptoms and concerns.

The center initially was open seven days a week, but hours as of this Tuesday are Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m .; Saturday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m .; and closed Sunday.

The center will provide screening, testing, and treatment for patients with symptoms associated with COVID-19, such as fever, cough and shortness of breath. The consolidation of patients to this area of the facility will help minimize the possible spread of COVID-19.

Patients visiting the CSTC will need to bring their DOD I.D. card and list of current prescriptions. Children age 10 and up will also need to bring their DOD I.D. card.

Traffic control points were also established on Thursday along Cochrane Circle to direct patients and staff to designated parking areas, to include parking for those visiting the CSTC for screening.

Entrance into Evans Army Community Hospital is consolidated to three entryways for visitors.

The West Entrance will serve as the entry for staff and patients who are considered well and not exhibiting symptoms. Each person entering the West entrance will have their temperature taken before proceeding.

Staff and patients who are sick or exhibiting symptoms will enter through the SFCC entrance for access to the CSTC for screening. The Emergency Department remains open and able to receive all patients with urgent and emergent medical needs. Patients with severe symptoms potentially related to COVID-19 will also be seen in the ED.

For the latest information on COVID-19, visit the CDC and DOD Coronavirus websites: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus and https://www.defense.gov/Explore/Spotlight/Coronavirus/, or call Fort Carson COVID-19 Hotline at (719) 524-2684.

Peterson Air Force Base

On Monday an active-duty service member and a dependent tested positive for COVID-19. These two confirmed cases are unrelated. Both individuals are quarantined and receiving support and medical care in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Force Health Protection and 21st Medical Group guidelines.

Both individuals were tested at the Peterson point of testing – a drive through testing location on base.

Military health professionals are conducting a thorough contact investigation to determine whether any other personnel may have been exposed. Those personnel will be contacted and given direction by their leadership. Depending on the results of that investigation, additional precautionary measures will be taken to minimize spread.

"We are doing everything we can to help minimize the spread of COVID-19. Department of the Air Force personnel and their families live, work and attend school in this community and we are committed to doing our part to limit the spread of this virus," said Col. Thomas Falzarano, 21st Space Wing commander. "We remain in close coordination with our interagency partners, and public health authorities to ensure the wellbeing of our military force, their families and our community."

Medical professionals at Peterson AFB established a COVID-19 testing location March 20 to help limit the possible spread of virus. In order to be tested for COVID-19, patients must first be evaluated by phone and meet criteria recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.

The consolidation of patients to this area will help minimize the exposure to COVID-19. If you are concerned that you or someone in your family has been exposed to COVID-19 and you are symptomatic (cough, shortness of breath and/or fever) please call 719-524-2273 first.

Testing will be conducted at the Peterson car wash and is available for all members whose servicing medical treatment facility is Peterson or Schriever Air Force Bases. The center will be open by appointment only, Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Medical staff will test patients who will remain in their vehicle. Do not go to the car wash unless directed to do so by medical staff; you will not receive testing unless an order has been placed by your care team beforehand.

Those waiting for a test will see medical professionals lining up on Otis Street, and will direct drivers further.

Schriever Air Force Base

Schriever AFB has its first positive COVID-19 case, too. A 50th Space Wing government civilian has been in isolation at home since March 17 and is receiving care in accordance with Centers for Disease Control, Force Health Protection and 21st Medical Group guidelines.

"This is exactly why we have taken the serious precautions we have to limit further transmission of the Coronavirus," said Col. James Smith, installation commander. "We remain committed to preserving our team members' ability to provide for our nation's defense and sustain current worldwide military missions."

Officials are researching the details regarding this exposure.  All known contacts have been teleworking since March 17 as a precaution. 

For the latest information on COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Department of Defense Coronavirus websites at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus and https://www.defense.gov/Explore/Spotlight/Coronavirus/.

Military families with questions specific to the coronavirus can visit:

https://www.tricare.mil/coronavirus

U.S. Army Major General Matthew W. McFarlane, Commander, 4ID and Fort Carson.

 

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