FORT BENNING, Ga. – Fort Benning officials answered questions on COVID-19 vaccinations, one station unit training graduations and General Order 9 Tuesday afternoon via the U.S. Army Garrison Benning Facebook page.
Officials who participated were the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning Commanding General Maj. Gen. Patrick Donahoe, Garrison Commander Col. Matthew Scalia, interim Martin Army Community Hospital Commander Col. Robert Holcek, and MCoE Command Surgeon Lt. Col. Ethan Miles.
For those who missed the town hall, it is available for viewing at www.facebook.com/FortBenningGarrison/videos/464178661305991.
COVID-19 and vaccinations: The commanding general told the viewing audience, “We’re actually in a very good spot.” The COVID numbers are down, both on the installation and in the surrounding community. This coupled with the installation’s robust vaccination program along with the states of Alabama and Georgia vaccination policies means General Order 9 took effect at 5 p.m. (To read GO9, visit the Fort Benning Garrison page.
“Widespread vaccination is our goal to stopping the pandemic, vaccines are effective and a critical tool to bringing this pandemic under control,” Holcek said. “We want to vaccinate as many people as possible before we enter the summer months.”
The Pfizer vaccine is offered at the old Martin Army parking lot from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
A plus to being fully vaccinated is two gyms, Audie Murphy on Main Post and Whittington gym on Harmony Church, will no longer require masks May 3 after users have entered their proof of vaccination in the web track system, Scalia said.
OSUT and graduations: Infantry OSUT graduations occur off post at the National Infantry Museum. Donahoe said those graduations will open to the public May 15. At present Armor graduations occur on Harmony Church and other graduations on the installation are still being considered. “We’re thinking through how we mitigate the risk of people coming from all over the country to the installation,” he said. “We will have that solution in the next week or two.”
Family Day: “We are not planning on opening family days right now in the foreseeable future, given where those Soldiers are in the training pipeline,” Donahoe said. Maintaining training capacity is critical for the nation’s security and losing two weeks of training because of quarantine or isolation isn’t an acceptable risk.
The fastest way to beat this pandemic is to get vaccinated, said Miles, who is a board-certified family practice doctor.
General Order 9 continues to limit attendance at bars and restaurants that make 50% or more of their revenue from alcohol sale is prohibited. Face masks are required wear in the commissary, post exchange, shoppettes, other businesses and customer service locations on post. Do not forge a COVID vaccination card.