As parts of the country reopen and restore previously closed services, Fort Gordon’s phasing remains contingent on the region’s COVID-19 trend.
The U.S. Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon held its biweekly COVID-19 Town Hall on Thursday via videoconferencing technology.
Maj. Gen. Neil S. Hersey, CCoE and Fort Gordon commanding general, said the purpose of the town hall was to keep the community informed of what’s happening on the installation with regards to actions being taken to protect and fight against COVID-19.
The first to speak after Hersey, CCoE and Fort Gordon Command Sgt. Maj. Delia Quintero focused on a memorandum issued by Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper dated May 22. In the memorandum, Esper extended the stop-movement order indefinitely on travel restrictions (permanent changes of station) that were previously expected to end June 30. The good news, Quintero said, is service members are now permitted travel as required for professional military education.
“I’m sure for the operational force that’s out there, I’m sure that’s good news for those that are pending promotion to the next grade,” Quintero said.
Brig. Gen. Christopher Eubank, CCoE and Fort Gordon deputy commanding general for operations, emphasized that the memo is “conditions-based,” adding that “there is going to be some changes as we look at conditions state-to-state, region-to-region, and really post-to-post from an Army perspective.”
Movement on Fort Gordon has picked up as Soldiers continue to arrive for training and leave from the installation for their first duty station.
“We are now shipping across the globe … and we continue to ship across the Continental United States on a weekly basis,” Eubank said.
Col. (P) Paul Craft, U.S. Army Cyber School commandant, shared insight on the next Captain Career’s Course, which will begin differently than previous courses. New this rotation, one of the classes from the course will be conducted online from the comfort and safety of each officers’ home stations then will shift later in the summer to Fort Gordon.
“That’s just another way that we’re using the technology that we have and another opportunity for us to continue training to make sure that we’re the most ready military in the world,” Craft said.
Coming off what Col. Jim Clifford described as a “very successful Memorial Day weekend,” the Fort Gordon garrison commander said the reopening of Pointes West Army Recreation for boating proved to be a good decision.
“We had a very orderly transition for moving boaters in and out of the area and didn’t have any social distancing concerns, and so because of that, we’re going to maintain our boat ramp posture for the foreseeable future,” Clifford said.
While the lakefront/beach area remain closed primarily due to social distancing and current inability to provide lifeguards, not all hope is lost.
“Bottom line is we’re looking for a 14-day declination in the overall COVID rates in the region, not just here on post, for us to be able to make informed medical decisions based on the advice of the [Eisenhower Army Medical Center] commander and her public health team for us to be able to reopen some facilities,” Clifford said.
Col. Carlene A.S Blanding, EAMC commander, said that she and her staff are exploring possibilities for reinstating all hospital services.
“We continue to deliberately plan how to restore services, taking into consideration the continued safety of all of our employees and our patients,” Blanding said.
In closing, Fort Gordon Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Starrett thanked everyone who participated, noting there were a lot of good questions – one of which he felt was important to reiterate concerning the stop-movement order.
“Gen. Hersey’s General Order No. 1 is in accordance with that latest guidance – I would ask that you follow that guidance as published,” Starrett said. “Most of the guidance that came out in that memo, we are already practicing.”
During the Q&A session, Craft said the public can join him in tracking the 14-day downward trend of COVID-19 cases by visiting https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report.
The next Fort Gordon COVID 19 Town Hall will be held June 11 at 11 a.m.
For footage of the town hall and a link for the slides shown, visit the Fort Gordon Facebook page.
“I appreciate everyone’s teamwork, I appreciate everyone’s engagement, stay safe out there, look out for one another … Thank you for what you do,” Hersey said.