The U.S. Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon held its biweekly COVID-19 Town Hall on Thursday via videoconferencing technology.
Like previous town halls, the event was an opportunity for Fort Gordon leadership to provide the community with up-to-date information in regards to Fort Gordon’s actions during the pandemic followed by a Q&A session from those watching.
Maj. Gen. Neil S. Hersey, CCoE and Fort Gordon commanding general, said the number of positive COVID-19 cases has risen, as is the need for ventilators due to the increased number of hospitalizations resulting from the pandemic. Hersey said he believes the trend could be attributed to a number of things to include recent holiday events with large numbers of people, the state’s gradual reopening, and a lack of people practicing CDC guidelines put in place to help prevent its spread. He urged the community to be vigilant in the fight against the disease by not becoming complacent.
“Now more than ever, practice those guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID, so we can collectively reverse that upward trend,” Hersey said. “Everyone must act together across the board and not let our guard down and continue to aggressively reinforce CDC guidelines to the fullest extent possible to defeat this invisible enemy.”
Col. (P) Paul Craft, U.S. Army Cyber School commandant, used the platform to express appreciation for those working around the clock in support of reversing the trend, then reminded the community of Hersey’s top priorities. The No. 1 priority, he said, has always been to keep everyone safe.
“That’s why we’re here,” Craft said. “That’s [Hersey’s] No. 1 priority, that’s our No. 1 priority, and I just ask that you continue to keep that in mind.”
Another top priority is to “maintain the readiness” of the nation by continuing to operate and train service members. Craft went on to say that in order to do that, the community must be ready for more challenges.
“Remain vigilant in our efforts to be safe,” Craft said. “We have policies in place, and we also have just a common sense factor that we have to make sure we apply.”
In an effort to maintain the readiness that Craft spoke of, Col. John Batson, U.S. Signal School commandant, said that his priority remains training and educating the student population in the safest manner possible. Batson and his team continue to enforce social distancing, enforce mask wear, and maximize opportunities for virtual learning when possible.
“Now is not the time to let our guard down and relax our standards,” Batson said. “As virus cases increase in both Georgia and South Carolina, now is the time to double-down on the protective measures we know that work to protect ourselves, our families and our mission.”
Fort Gordon Garrison Commander Col. Jim Clifford provided a brief rundown of changes that have occurred to services on the installation since the last town hall. One of the most notable changes is sure to make the retiree population happy, which he’ll soon be joining as he relinquishes command July 17. All authorized patrons now have access to the Fort Gordon Commissary during all open hours. Previously, the mornings had been reserved for active duty personnel. Clifford explained the reasoning behind his decision.
“The supply chain has stabilized to the point that we can ensure that all of our service members have access to staples, and also based on the medical advice we received from our public health officials on the things we have in place relative to the masks, ID card checks, and a cap of 100 personnel at one time – the commissary is allowing us to continue to operate in that way,” Clifford said.
Gordon Care Care/Auto Skills Center and Hilltop Riding Stable join the list of amenities that have reopened. And both Gordon Lakes Golf Course and the Tactical Advantage Sportsman’s Complex have expanded the number of days they are open.
As facilities across the installation and beyond reopen, Lt. Col. Wendy Miklos, Department of Public Health, Eisenhower Army Medical Center, said to be careful not to let it give people a false sense of safety.
“Everyone out there is empowered to have an impact on this epidemic,” Miklos said. “You do that by just following the guidelines that are very well-known.”
Echoing Miklos’ comments, CCoE and Fort Gordon Command Sgt. Maj. Delia Quintero urged everyone to be responsible and think outside of themselves.
“If the protection of masks is worn not for you, but to protect others – you can look at it that way,” Quintero said.
The public can track the 14-day 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 on July 23 at 11 a.m.
“Please comply with CDC guidelines and be the voice of reason when others do not want to comply and hopefully help convince them to comply with these procedures so we can defeat this invisible enemy and continue to operate and take care of our people,” Hersey said.
For footage of the town hall and a link for the slides shown, visit the Fort Gordon Facebook page.