(FORT STEWART) – Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield are lowering the Health Protection Condition level to Bravo and adjusting General Order #1 restrictions resulting in improvements on Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Air Field as a result of an increase in vaccinated personnel coinciding with a noteworthy decrease in the number of positive cases in the last two weeks.
The improvements are credited to Soldiers, DA civilians and Families following multiple increased health protection measures and the implementation of the DoD mandatory vaccination program over the past two months.
“While we know the additional restrictions were not a welcomed change back in August, they were necessary for the safety of our Soldier, Family members and community. The protection measures emplaced in August helped reduce the spread, kept our community safer, and have proven to be worth it,” said Maj. Gen. Charles Costanza, commanding general of 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield “We were able to safely conduct a major command post exercise while our cases dropped considerably. We need everyone to continue to be diligent to keep things moving in this direction.”
A personal point of pride to Costanza was that there was never an interruption to Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) schools due to the effects of COVID-19 since he took command in June this year.
“Seeing a number of neighboring counties having to return to homeschooling or initiating large quarantines was a potential threat we took very seriously when we made assessments on our policies and safety measures,” Costanza said. “I am extremely proud of our DODEA professionals for their diligence in maintaining safety in our schools and for all the attentive parents who ensured we got through this by taking any concerns they might have had seriously for the sake of the community.”
Winn Army Community Hospital has been critical in providing treatment and continuing healthcare services to our community throughout the increase HPCON measures and greater COVID-19 response.
“I am equally proud of all our health care providers at Winn Army Community Hospital. Without their care and professionalism day in day out we would be in a tough spot. While there were several weeks that the capacity of the facility was stretched, the Winn Army Community Hospital team was never overwhelmed as they continued to care for our people,” Costanza said.
More than 90% of Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield Soldiers are fully vaccinated and 95% partially vaccinated. The installation is also working to meet the DoD Mandate for all DA Civilians to be vaccinated by November 22, 2021.
Based on the continued improvements and effective immediately, the restriction to bars and clubs for fully vaccinated service members is lifted. The limit on unit formations has been extended from squad to company/battery/troop size. Restrictions remain for those individuals that are not fully vaccinated.
All current protective measures pertaining to wearing masks on and off post remain in effect in accordance with DoD policy because the Tri-County community transmission rates remain high. The command encourages Soldiers, leaders, civilian employees, and the community to still wear their mask indoors, do the right thing both on and off duty.
“Currently our service members are over 90% vaccinated, our local counties are still less than 50% vaccinated. While we are an example for the state, we are still not out of harm’s way,” said Lt. Col. John Gartside, the Division Surgeon. “Local hospitals are still on divert status. We continue to encourage families to get vaccinated, or to talk to their health care provider to make an informed decision if they still have concerns.”