TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Ty Greenlees
Photo: Ty Greenlees

Wright-Patterson reports 3 new coronavirus cases

Base is working on contact tracing for 3 child care employees

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base has reported a trio of new positive COVID-19 cases since Sunday, all of them workers at base child care facilities which only recently reopened.

Consequently, both the Wright Field North and South child-care facilities were closed Tuesday for “deep cleaning” work. As of late Tuesday, it wasn’t yet clear whether those centers would reopen today.

Those who tested positive are child care center employees, base spokesman Robert Purtiman said.

Initially, on Sunday, the base said in a Facebook update that there was a “low risk of exposure to our population because the employee was not at work last week and the facility was closed.”

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But on Monday, the base corrected that, noting that, in fact, children had been at the care centers last week. The child care facilities opened last June 8, Purtiman said.

The base has four child development centers — New Horizons, Wright Care, Wright Field North and Wright Field South — which reopened June 8.

“This is an evolving situation. To correct our earlier post, there were children in the facility last week. CDC staff is in the process of notifying the parents. Testing for the facility employees and contact tracing is currently ongoing,” the base said in a Facebook post Monday afternoon.

Symptoms for COVID-19 can become apparent as early as two days and as long as 14 days after a person is exposed, said Dr. Glen Solomon, chairman of the department of internal medicine at Wright State University’s Boonshoft School of Medicine. The average time for symptoms to appear is five days, he said.

Solomon said Tuesday it’s simply not possible to know now where and when those positive cases were exposed to the virus.

“We don’t really know what the timeframe is there,” he said.

But he added that after 14 days the risk of infecting other people is less than one percent.

“If you’re going to spread the disease, you’re going go do it in the first two weeks,” Solomon said.

Purtiman said it is difficult to pinpoint when people were infected. “We certainly aren’t seeing any hot spots on the installation,” he said.

Purtiman declined to comment on the employees’ conditions, but he said contact tracing work for all those who may have come into contact with those employees is ongoing.

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In guidance issued before the centers opened, Wright-Patterson said the child development centers will be able to handle about half of their pre-COVID-19 capacity based on state and public health guidelines of 135 square feet of space for each child.

The various child centers on the base were open to a capacity of about 430 children total, since they resumed operations June 8. Purtiman wasn’t able to say Tuesday how many children were present in the facilities.

“Due to the guidelines and best practices, the 88th Force Support Squadron can support 312 child development center children and 117 youth program (Prairies School-Age Program, Prairies Youth Center) children,” the base said June 2.

Families have been contacted and are working with public health officials on follow-up actions, Purtiman said.

“I think they’re doing the right things by doing the contact tracing at the child care centers,” Solomon said.

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