Fort Leonard Wood leadership held a town hall March 10 at the Main Post Chapel to address community concerns over the COVID-19 virus.
Maj. Gen. Donna Martin, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, focused her remarks on three key areas: impacts to travel, impacts to daily operations on the post and impacts to individuals' interactions with their environment and to each other.
Martin said there are "no positive instances" of the virus present here, and that preparation and information sharing are vital in prevention efforts.
"It's of the utmost importance that all the service members, civilians, families, and retirees on post and in our community are informed of what we're doing to protect you," she said. "It's also important that the American people who have entrusted us with their sons and daughters know that while we continue to train to fight and win our nation's wars, we are actively focused on preventing the spread of illness on this post and in our community."
Martin said that using "tried and true" interaction changes regarding surroundings and one another is key -- to include washing hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds and to maintain six feet of distance from others when possible.
Martin also said the post is implementing current Army orders and following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines regarding travel restrictions. Those restrictions include:
--Permanent Change of Station Soldiers and families on orders to or from Level 3 countries, such as South Korea and Italy, for COVID-19 will stop movement and delay travel until May 6 or until further notice, she said.
--Soldiers and international students currently stationed in Level 2 countries, which includes Japan, or Level 3 countries scheduled to attend professional military education in the United States for six months or less in a training status will postpone their courses until further notice.
--Soldiers will not travel to Level 2 and 3 countries for training, exercises or exchanges, and Soldiers in Level 2 and 3 countries will not travel to the United States for training exercises. In addition, international students in Level 2 and 3 countries will not travel to the United States to participate in exercises, exchanges or visits.
"Our No. 1 priority is protecting you -- your health and safety," Martin said. "If this impacts you, please stay in close coordination with your leadership and personnel staff to be informed of exactly what that means for your individual planning purposes."
Martin also commented on the changes being made to daily operations on the post, to include gate-guard procedures and restrictions on visitors with unofficial business from high-risk countries.
"In an abundance of caution, as you enter and exit post, you will notice gate guards scanning IDs differently and donning appropriate personal protective gear to protect themselves and others while maintaining appropriate force-protection posture," she said.
Martin also said the post is temporarily restricting access to visitors to the installation "not on official business" who have just traveled from Italy, South Korea and China due to their country status as classified by the CDC.
Last week, Fort Leonard Wood started following additional trainee screening measures enacted for all basic combat training posts by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
In addition, starting next week (March 16), family-day activities are cancelled and graduations will no longer be open to families or the public until further notice, Martin said in response to a question from Facebook. She also said units will provide the opportunity for family members and loved ones to view graduations virtually.
"We're taking an appropriate, comprehensive approach to prevent the virus from spreading," Martin said. "We're thinking -- we're planning ahead."
Martin was joined on the stage by Col. Kimberlie Biever, General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital commander, and Joe Rapone, a senior garrison command representative. They each answered questions from those in attendance as well as comments posted to the live stream Facebook event.
"We're doing all we can to get out in front of this," Martin said. "We are committed to adapting to continue our mission."
For more information, and updates to the post's prevention and response initiatives, visit www.facebook.com/fortleonardwoodmissouri.
For more information from the CDC on the COVID-19 virus, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/after-travel-precautions.html.