The U.S. Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon held a COVID Response Town Hall on Thursday. The previous one was held on Dec. 10, 2020, at which time the main topics of discussion revolved around holiday block leave preparations and procedures. Service members have since returned to Fort Gordon, quarantined a minimum 14 days, and then successfully returned to training earlier in the week, according to Col. John Batson, U.S. Army Signal School commandant. The most recent town hall focused largely on the COVID-19 vaccination.
Maj. Gen. Neil S. Hersey, Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon commanding general, opened the town hall by saying there have been “many developments” with regards to the pandemic since the last town hall; namely the availability of the Moderna vaccine, which is currently being administered at Eisenhower Army Medical Center and is available to the Fort Gordon population in phases. Hersey, along with numerous other leaders including CCoE and Fort Gordon Command Sgt. Maj. Delia Quintero, have already received their first dose and are encouraging others to follow suit. Quintero said it was important to educate service members on the facts surrounding the vaccine and to be careful to not become mislead by widespread false information.
“We have complete trust in the immunization process that is in place for us, so I just ask for your support that once you’re available for your vaccine, that you do that,” Quintero said.
Hersey emphasized that General Order No. 1 remains in effect regardless of whether or not a service member has been vaccinated.
Adding to Quintero’s comments about the vaccine, Fort Gordon Garrison Commander Col. Shaw Pick described the staff and process at EAMC as “phenomenal,” asking that everyone volunteer to receive it as soon as possible.
“Help us vaccine our way back to normalcy so we can start doing some fun stuff on Fort Gordon in the spring, hopefully,” Pick said.
In terms of the installation’s posture and services, very little has changed, Pick went on to say. Most services are available but operating under different hours, or in some cases virtually instead of in-person. Garrison is doing what it can to keep as much open as possible while using COVID-19 mitigation measures.
“We have been able to do that … by doing the three big fundamentals,” Pick said. “We have distanced, we have masked up, and we have aggressively sanitized. I thank you up front for your patience in working with us as we do things differently to get back to full services.”
The best way for someone to find out if a place is open or has changed its hours is by referring to both the Fort Gordon garrison and Fort Gordon MWR Facebook pages.
EAMC has also been putting out pandemic-related information on its Facebook page, to include days and times for information sessions the hospital has been hosting on MS Teams twice a week.
Lt. Col. Kevin Doherty, a biochemist with EAMC, said these sessions address “key information” that go into great detail about the vaccine. Each information session is followed by Q&A, giving participants an opportunity to ask questions.
“We live in an age where we’re surrounded by information daily … there’s a lot of good information out there, but there’s also a lot of no-so-good information out there,” Doherty said. “The whole point of these information sessions is to provide you with the facts from the subject matter experts.”
Maj. Chris Dunbar, infectious disease physician, EAMC, highlighted a few key points about the vaccine, in hopes of dispelling some of the misinformation being shared.
“We know that based on the initial studies, it has a 94 percent efficacy at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infection,” Dunbar said, referring to the Moderna vaccine.”
In closing, Hersey thanked everyone for tuning in and said that those who did not receive answers to their questions would as soon as possible. He went on to say that he looked forward being in “a better place” soon with the vaccine becoming more widely available and received.
In the meantime, continue to leverage your chain of command and take care of oneself and each other.
“Find ways to do things within the environment that we’re in like get outside, get fresh air, enjoy the outdoors, talk to folks on various media platforms and stay connected to those around you,” Hersey said.
The next virtual town hall will be Feb. 18, at 11 a.m.
The latest version of General Order No. 1 can be found on the Fort Gordon Facebook page and by visiting the Fort Gordon homepage at home.army.mil/gordon/index.php/coronavirus.
For footage of the town hall and a link for the slides shown, visit the Fort Gordon Facebook page.