The 3rd Infantry Division senior commander, Maj. Gen. Charles Costanza, addressed the Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield community via Facebook live, June 30, during his first COVID-19 Town Hall.
The town hall served as an opportunity for him to introduce himself to the community and address important changes made to the installation’s health protection level, updated guidelines for on-post visitors and the return to pre-COVID operations for many of the services offered on Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield.
Col. Manny Ramirez, Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield garrison commander, Winn Army Community Hospital commander, Col. Julie Freeman and 3rd Infantry Division senior enlisted leader, Command Sgt. Maj. Quentin Fenderson were also in attendance.
Among the major updates was the change to the installation’s health protection posture from HPCON Bravo to HPCON Alpha.
“There was a series of very specific conditions that allowed me to make the decision to go from Health Protection level Bravo to Health Protection level Alpha,” Costanza said. “I want to be clear though that just because we are moving to Health Protection level Alpha that it does not mean that COVID is gone and we still need to take some precautions as we move to Alpha.”
Ramirez, also took the time to address the updated guidelines for hosting visitors on Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield and elaborated on the decision behind not returning to the trusted traveler program.
Ramirez explained that in light of the decision to not renew the trusted traveler program that leaders are working to make the visitor pass process for DoD ID cardholders who would like to host civilian guests on the installation easier.
“We are not moving back to Trusted Traveler due to force protection concerns,” he said. “However, we have listened to your feedback and are streamlining the process to get visitor passes. If your guest or visitor is staying less than 24 hours a pass can be granted by the Visitor Control Center, pending a clearance check. For visits longer than 24 hours the visitor can submit a digital request via the DES page on our website, home.army.mil/stewart.”
In addition to HPCON and visitor access updates Col. Freeman reminded viewers that a reduction in HPCON status doesn’t mean that our community should stop being vigilant when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, she spoke about the DELTA variant and the need to continue wearing masks and social distancing when required both on-post and while out in the community.
“Based on your efforts to get vaccinated, the amount of new personnel arriving already vaccinated, and the decrease over time in cases, we feel we can return to an increased sense of normalcy,” Freeman said.
Overall, the town hall served as a platform to clarify and reiterate new policies and to praise the community for their vigilance in COVID-19 mitigation.
“You’ve heard the Senior Commander and know the direction we’re headed,” Ramirez said. “For the most part, the move to HPCON Alpha means improved services and the return to business as usual.”
The town hall can be viewed online at facebook.com/FortStewartHunterArmyAirfield