WASHINGTON -- In an unprecedented response to COVID-19, the Army continues to work with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide support across all 10 FEMA regions in the U.S. and parts of the Indo-Pacific.All FEMA regions have been activated simultaneously for the first time in U.S. history, a senior Army official said Tuesday, adding the force will maintain its commitment to FEMA operations until the mission is complete.Thus far, the Army has provided a wide range of resources, ranging from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' role in the development of alternative medical facilities, to the mobilization of Army hospitals in support of non-COVID-19 medical operations."Operationally, we had to adapt to the situation, the threat, and the environment -- the threat being the virus," he said. The Army had to find ways to balance operations "to support, what is now, an operational theater in U.S. Northern Command."Early on, the Army was able to get COVID-19 testing capabilities to parts of Central Command and Europe. As the virus continued to spread, the force worked hard to layer its testing and treatment capacities as many installations introduced social distancing and isolation procedures to ensure the safety of all personnel. Leaders needed to find ways to balance the core missions of readiness, modernization and lethality, while simultaneously providing support.Overall, the Army's ability to adjust to the current environment has been "remarkable," he said. From a strategic readiness standpoint, all Army commands have proven, in some capacity, their ability to modify and adjust current operational, logistical, or training efforts to support current actions.Senior leaders are now working on future plans to return the Army to some form of normal operations, officials said. Currently, portions of the force are operating on mission-essential status, often coming into work to complete specific tasks, while adhering to recommended medical and distancing protocols.Moving forward, senior commanders will play a critical role as the Army and country open back up and resume operations. The Army will first need to monitor the local areas around an installation, as they are often reflective of base operations and conditions.Senior commanders will then need to layer its COVID-19 testing capabilities, prioritizing resources for symptomatic personnel.As the installation lead, senior commanders have the authority to change their health protection condition level and can declare a public health emergency, if necessary. Along with this authority, commanders can also decide a testing practice that meets the need of their installation."The senior commander is like a mayor," he said. For example, "if he wants to close gates A and B … and wants to test every fifth car (for COVID-19), they have the authority to make that decision.”Additionally, installation or local area medical facilities must have proper treatment capacities to support the base population if virus levels were to increase. Leaders will also need a way to monitor the local area and installation's testing and treatment capabilities, to help prevent the over- expenditure of medical resources.Looking at ways to reopen an Army installation is akin to what each city is currently doing to return to normal operations."There will be some locations that are not necessarily in a hot zone and have proper testing and treatment capabilities," that could open sooner, he said. "We have to make sure we give (commanders) sort of a framework to allow them to make decisions inside their own operating space."Related linksU.S. Army COVID-19 GuidanceArmy News ServiceARNEWS Archive