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Six things to know: COVID-19 weekly recap for March 20

  • Published
  • By Capt. Keenan Kunst
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Since the World Health Organization first declared a public health emergency, Jan. 30, 2020, Team Whiteman has proactively implemented a variety of changes to base processes and programs. These prudent measures help curb the spread of the coronavirus, and ensure Airmen, their families and the base’s neighbors remain healthy and safe.

The coronavirus presents a significant set of challenges to communities around the world, but Team Whiteman is the only community that must continue executing a strategic stealth bomber mission, providing long-range global strike capabilities. The 509th Bomb Wing, working hand-in-hand with the 131st Bomb Wing, 442nd Fighter Wing, 1-135th Aviation Regiment and the 20th Attack Squadron, is committed to enabling the base’s varied and essential missions while safeguarding the wellbeing of those who work and live here.

The various changes will affect everyone differently. Team Whiteman leadership understands there may be confusion, especially with the seemingly overwhelming amount of information out there. However, we are working diligently to keep everyone healthy and informed.

Here are 6 key tips and pieces of information to help Airmen, families, and Whiteman-Area neighbors navigate this situation:

1. Get your information from official sources

The swift spread of coronavirus has created a dynamic situation that changes rapidly, fomenting opportunities for the spread of misinformation.  To counter confusion and ensure everyone is properly educated, seek out reputable, official sources and do not spread unconfirmed rumors.

Your best sources of information are Whiteman AFB sites and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Twice-daily updates (7 a.m. and 4 p.m.) are posted to the official Whiteman AFB Facebook, with data on the number of confirmed cases at the base (currently: 0) and the current Health Protection Condition (currently: BRAVO).

Official Whiteman AFB Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WhitemanAirForceBase
Official Whiteman AFB Twitter: https://twitter.com/Whiteman_AFB
Official Whiteman AFB COVID-19 Webpage: https://www.whiteman.af.mil/News/CORONAVIRUS-19/
Official 509th Medical Group Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Whiteman509MDG/
CDC Coronavirus Website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
Air Force Global Strike Command COVID-19 Webpage: https://www.afgsc.af.mil/News/Coronavirus-19/

 

2. Social distancing and proper hygiene are the best physical defenses

The absolute best ways to ensure you do not spread the virus are maintaining distance from other people and frequently cleaning yourselves, workspaces and living areas. People should wash their hands for least 20 seconds, at regular intervals throughout the day and should sanitize frequently-handled items including door knobs, keyboards and cell phones. Following the White House Coronavirus Guidelines for America (https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/03.16.20_coronavirus-guidance_8.5x11_315PM.pdf) is highly recommended, as is avoiding groups of 10 or more. It is incumbent on the entirety of Team Whiteman to practice these mutually beneficial behaviors and look out for one another.

 

3. There will be changes to base access as the situation develops

Beginning March 19, only those with Department of Defense-issued identification cards, or those on official business (e.g. contractors, mail delivery) will be able to access Whiteman AFB. Current visitor passes will be honored, but no new visitor passes will be issued after 6 p.m., March 19. This measure protects Airmen—and their families—living and working on base, and allow for efficient mission continuation. If you have any specific, individual questions about this policy, please work with your supervisor and chain of command. We understand certain circumstances will require an exception to policy and there is process in place to address and facilitate that; your leadership can assist you.

The coronavirus situation evolves hourly and there may be changes to access procedures in the future. We will communicate these to Team Whiteman; please follow our social media for the most up-to-date information.

 

4. The 509th Medical Group is providing essential care and pharmacy services

Primary and pediatric care have shifted primarily to virtual appointments, but you can absolutely still receive care. The 509th Medical Group is working around the clock to meet our installation and retiree community’s healthcare needs.

To ensure proper social distancing, please call ahead or use TRICARE’s secure messaging service to communicate with your care provider. Your provider will then assess your need to come into the clinic for physical treatment.

Additionally, the 509th MDG is providing emergency dental care and dental care required to keep active-duty members deployable. Personnel may also order and pick up eyeglasses and contact lenses through optometry.

The laboratory and immunizations section are continuing normal operations.

The pharmacy is also operating normally, but there are additional options available for customers to receive their medication refills without coming onto the installation. Patients can use the Express Scripts mobile app to set up a home delivery or call 1-877-363-1303; if you call, please have your prescription bottle ready.

Instructions on how to set up pharmacy delivery and secure messaging can be found on the 509th MDG Facebook.

Local Nurse Advice Line: (660) 687-1537
Public Health Hotline: (660) 687-1545
TRICARE Nurse Advice Line: 1-800-874-2273

 

5. Restrictions on travel protect our mission capability

The Department of Defense has implemented travel restrictions affecting all DoD employees and service members. Team Whiteman members may not travel outside the local area while on leave; similarly, on passes (i.e. off-duty time), members may not travel more than one hour away (by car) from their residence.

These restrictions also stopped all TDYs and permanent changes of station. The DoD is limiting movement to slow the spread of coronavirus and protect military personnel from contracting COVID-19.

We must continue to provide for America’s national defense; Team Whiteman is needed to fulfill a variety of missions, including global strike and combat support. To execute our mission, our Airmen must be healthy and fit to fight.

If you have specific questions regarding these restrictions and how they affect you or your family, please direct them to your supervisor and chain of command.

 

6. When in doubt, use your chain of command

The Department of Defense and Team Whiteman will continue aggressively tackling the challenges presented by coronavirus; your local leaders are wholly committed to combatting the spread of this virus. However, our warfighting team and supportive families are made up of thousands of individuals. Each individual has their own concerns, fears and questions. Your leaders and commanders are here to help and empowered to address your needs and wellbeing. Please do not hesitate to work through your chain of command to seek clarification or assistance. You can also direct questions to the 509th BW Commander and Command Chief using the Leadership Link here: https://www.whiteman.af.mil/Connect/Leadership-Link/.