BRUSSELS -- In response to COVID-19 and the Dutch, German and Belgian stay-at-home measures, U.S. Army Garrison Benelux stood up a new task force to alleviate the harmful effects of the newly imposed isolation Families and community members were likely to face.Emily Guerrero, an operations officer for the garrison’s Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (DFMWR), received a call March 17 to head Task Force Cabin Fever and build two weeks of online programming to begin that very day.Belgium announced their new COVID-19 response measures March 17, and by the end of the day DFMWR had transformed their Facebook page into an online resource center for USAG Benelux community members newly stuck at home.“Each day we will offer a variety of videos from all of our activities across the Benelux,” said Guerrero in the first Task Force Cabin Fever video released later that day on DFMWR’s Facebook page.The next day, March 18, Task Force Cabin Fever released videos of a yoga training session, financial counseling and a bedtime story for children. For parents looking to organize their children’s day, Child and Youth Services provided the Child Development Center’s typical classroom schedule for infants, toddlers and preschoolers.From the members and teams of DFMWR to Army Community Service, Religious Support Office, Armed Forces Network - Benelux, SHAPE International Band, commercial enterprises and more, many different individuals and organizations have been aiding Task Force Cabin Fever’s efforts to provide a positive online outreach within a garrison that spans three countries and numerous sites.The cooperation expands the USAG Benelux footprint and area of responsibility. The Benelux DMFWR has worked with other garrisons on this, including USAGs Ansbach, Bavaria, Stuttgart and Italy. The marketing directors across the European held a meeting. USAG Bavaria has a similar program called “6 Feet Apart But In This Together.”Although there are well-known blog websites with large audiences providing similar material, Guerrero believes the task force provides something unique to this garrison.“What’s really special about Cabin Fever is that our community interacts with you face to face every single day,” she said. “We’ve taken these faces that people trust and know and love in the community and put them online to let them know -- to let the community know -- that they are not alone and we’re still here to provide the support and quality-of-life services.”The team have released story time videos for young children, science demonstrations for school-age children, craft activities, a cooking tutorial for parents who want to teach their children how to prepare snacks, a mindfulness exercise for adults managing stress, physical education demonstrations with household objects.The initial slate of videos for the first seven days of the task force were developed in 24 hours of learning there was a task force. The longer they have worked on the Task Force, the more material has developed, partly developed from the response and feedback from the community.In addition to content for a variety of audiences and purposes, the task force has released a number of different media and services, not just videos. Besides the CDC class schedules, they have released photos, posters, weekend contests, and more. They provided community members instructions on how to join the library. The SHAPE International Band solicited videos from community members dancing and compiled it into a music video of a remotely coordinated quartet playing a dance party.And some of the activities were ones the entire Family could take part in. One weekend, the task force hosted a contest for coming up with an indoor fort.Elizabeth Brady, an operations specialist with the Child, Youth and Schools (CYS) program, said that her organization’s goal is “trying to engage your children.”“So, just trying to find fun little things you can do at home, whether it be a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) activity using Legos or it might be something,” she said. “We have children that participate with us from six weeks old to 18 years of age, and we do everything from child care to sports and fitness activities and instructional craft classes. We really try to vary options that we put out there.“Right now what’s going on in the world is pretty serious,” she continued, “and I think there’s a lot of fear and concerns, so just trying to get back a sense of fun and play in your home is important.”Another part of Task Force Cabin Fever’s mission is to provide necessary social support. With the stress and intentional isolation inherent from the anti-COVID-19 measures, there is a worry about an increase in domestic disturbances and other negative behaviors like alcohol or substance abuse.Julie, who preferred not to give her surname, is a victim advocate for the Family Advocacy Program.“We do stress management classes, anger management, mindfulness training, as well as parenting classes, couples communication, and things like that -- on a normal basis,” she said. “Our challenge now is how do we reach out to folks to continue to provide those services during this lockdown order. … My role in that is to basically teach classes and to help people be safe, both within their relationships with their significant others and also with their children.She teaches the classes. Although she finds technology to be challenging, she finds the new online classroom format to have other drawbacks. She misses the personal interaction with each of the students and tailoring her own delivery to who participates, but she believes the students are missing out on another valuable resource: themselves.“Not only are you getting information from the instructor, you’re also getting information -- and good information -- from other participants in the class,” Julie said. “I give an example about how to manage perhaps a tantrum (in a parenting class), well another parent might have a fabulous idea that’s worked for them.”One recommendation Julie makes for those feeling the stress of isolation is to stay in touch: with Family, with friends and with new acquaintances.“It’s very important to kind of reach out to those folks as well,” she said of the new acquaintance. “And it could be just a telephone call or a quick ‘How are you doing?’ question in a text message that can make all the difference.”Those in serious, immediate need of emotional or social support should contact the Family Advocacy Program ( or the chaplains at the Religious Support Office ( A full list of garrison-relevant crisis numbers can be found here: far flung as the members of the garrison are from one another, Guerrero still sees opportunity in Task Force Cabin Fever, even after the threat of COVID-19 eventually subsides.“We’re all seeing how important it is to start offering this digital programming, even when we’re at normal operations again,” said Guerrero. “Our live broadcasting, like our yoga videos, across the footprint, that’s something we could be doing when we go back to normal life, and it can bring us all together.”