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FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — With new COVID-19 cases on the rise in Missouri, General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital’s Public Health Emergency Officer Capt. Terra Forward urges the Fort Leonard Wood community to be cautious over the Fourth of July weekend.

“If you choose to participate in large gatherings for the Fourth of July — if you are not vaccinated or under-vaccinated, meaning that you have not completed your doses — we highly encourage you to maintain mask wear as well as social distance,” Forward said.

Forward added that vaccinated people should also continue to follow the 3Ws if in large crowds.

“Even if you are vaccinated, if you’re in a very large crowd, continue to wear your mask, wash your hands and watch your distance,” she said.

It is also important for everyone to continue to watch for symptoms, Forward said.

“If you’ve been in large crowds, and if you develop any symptoms, get tested and seek clinical guidance,” she said. “And, if you are sick or develop any symptoms, it is imperative that you stay home and/or seek medical attention.”

Another consideration heading into the long weekend is to get the vaccine. Right now, Forward said, it is a “public health plea” to try to get people vaccinated.

“It’s extremely important for people to get the COVID-19 vaccine now, especially since we have the Delta variant circulating within Missouri,” Forward said. “We thought we were getting a little bit over COVID at this point, but unfortunately we don’t have enough vaccinated people to prevent the variant from spreading.”

For those who may be hesitant about receiving the vaccine, public health officials say the benefits outweigh the risks.

“We are seeing an increase in cases; we are seeing an increase in cases among younger people; and we are seeing an increase in hospitalizations, and most are not vaccinated,” Forward said.

More information about the vaccines is available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/index.html.

Anyone interested in receiving the vaccine should visit www.vaccines.gov to find vaccination providers. In some states, information may be limited while more U.S. vaccination providers and pharmacies are being added.

All service members, Tricare beneficiaries and current Department of Defense employees and contractors may receive the vaccine on Fort Leonard Wood.

“There are plenty of opportunities for vaccination on Fort Leonard Wood,” Forward said. “GLWACH just opened up the PX clinic, appointments can be made through the Immunization Clinic and mass-vaccination events are also held on the installation, with the next one happening on July 10.”

That mass-vaccination event is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Nutter Field House and is open to all Department of Defense ID card holders who need their first or second shot.

For more information about vaccination opportunities on Fort Leonard Wood, visit GLWACH’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GLWACH.