Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia leaders, both uniformed and non-uniformed, gathered for a town-hall community live stream to address the growing concerns over the novel Coronavirus aka COVID-19, at the main post chapel, March 19, at Fort Stewart, Georgia.
Maj. Gen. Tony Aguto, 3rd Infantry Division commander, Col. Bryan Logan, FSGA garrison commander, and Col. Michelle Munroe, WINN Army
Community Hospital commander, as well as representatives from different civilian-led departments discussed what precautions they are implementing in their sections and how this affects services and the health of the community.
“I want to stress how serious this is and how seriously we’re taking it,” said Aguto. “My first priority is the readiness of the force, [but] our most precious resource is our people.”
Striking the balance between readiness and the health and safety of all Dogface Soldiers, Family members and civilian counterparts has been challenging, but measures have been put in place in accordance with Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
“The first thing you can do to prevent COVID-19 in your household is to regularly clean common surface areas like doorknobs, counter tops, computer keyboards, light switches and even your phone,” said Munroe.
FSGA Soldiers and civilians also increased the cleaning of its office buildings and common facilities, such as the commissary and gyms.
“Our cleaning schedule implemented across [all installation] buildings is twice a day,” said Munroe.
Caution is advised when using various cleaning solutions said Monroe. Using diluted household bleach solutions and alcohol solutions with at least 70 percent alcohol within it are just some of the effective ways to keep a clean environment.
Brittany, a concerned military spouse who viewed the live-stream of the town-hall meeting asked during the Q&A portion, “how many service members, if any, have been quarantined?”
According to Aguto, as of March 19 approximately 95 cases have since come up in the FSGA/HAAF areas and those individuals have been restricted to their residence.
The CDC recommends social distancing, keeping an estimated six feet apart from others, especially those with notable symptoms. Staying home if non-essential, coughing into your elbow and sneezing into it aids the fight against COVID-19. More information is available on www.cdc.gov.
But what about the 3rd Infantry Division? What about the Soldiers abroad and their families dealing with a rapidly changing environment, what are they to do? The leadership present at the town-hall stream addressed those concerned with the information available.
“Every Soldier that is currently overseas is fulfilling a mission requirement,” said Aguto. “They are out in the field but have instituted a number of safety and protective measures against COVID-19.”
Maj. Gen. Aguto assured the FSGA/HAAF communities that when a proper timeline for Soldier redeployment back to the states is established, that he will disseminate that information.
Official travel has currently been stopped stated Aguto, according to Department of Defense policy. Permanent change of station and official travel are stopped until May 11th.
“We will move mountains, [that is to say] work within our bureaucracy to help any hardship cases that are out there,” said Aguto in regard to Soldiers and their families affected while in the middle of moving to their next location.
“Expiration – term of service (ETS) and retirement, those moves have not stopped,” said Aguto. “If you’re retiring or ETS’ing, you may continue on that path and our Soldier service center is prepared to continue that process.”
Access to the commissary has changed slightly. Early bird shopping has been established, running from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. at FSGA Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at HAAF. These hours have been designated to our retirees ages 60 and over.
The commissary will continue to operate their normal hours and FSGA/HAAF post exchanges run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.
Selena, a healthcare worker and Army spouse asked in the town-hall meeting’s forum on the FSGA Facebook page, “If the installation becomes inaccessible, will those working in the healthcare industry be able to access the installation?”
“If stricter restrictions are put in place, mission essential personnel may be granted special permissions for on and off-post travel,” said Maj. Peter Bogart, the 3rd Infantry Division deputy public affairs officer in response.
More information regarding the FSGA/HAAF installations and their guidance in the fight against COVID-19 as well as maintaining the health and safety of the 3rd ID community is available on the Fort Stewart app, which can be downloaded through the iOS app store and Google Play store and its website: https://home.army.mil/stewart/index.php
“We continue to work with our local, state and federal authorities and within the guidelines of the CDC to proactively respond to this threat,” said Aguto. “My number one priority is taking every possible measure we can to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus not just on Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, but to our local communities as well.”