Wright-Patterson improves to HPCON ‘Charlie’

Metrics moving in the right direction, base commander says

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base softened its COVID-related health protocols Friday as base leaders saw improved health and hospitalization metrics across the region.

“Effective at noon today, Feb. 11, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base will transition to Health Protection Condition Charlie as the four key performance indicators used to determine local Health Protection Condition levels have greatly improved,” the base’s 88th Air Base Wing said on its Facebook page.

The base had been in a stricter HPCON ‘Delta’ level, where base officials said remote “telework” was to be maximized “where the mission allows.”

A posting on the base website said at the Charlie level, facility occupancy is still set at less than 25%, and all official travel and military leave requires unit review before approval.

“We’ve seen a significant decrease both across state and locally in new (COVID) cases,” Col Patrick Miller, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander said in a video.

State COVID update

There was good news and bad news in Friday’s COVID update from the Ohio Department of Health. ODH reported 3,263 new COVID cases statewide on Friday, well below the 21-day average of 7,059.

COVID-related hospitalizations in the Dayton area declined by nearly 30% in the past week, with 296 people hospitalized Friday in west central Ohio, according to the Ohio Hospital Association.

But in a reminder of the severity of the two-year pandemic, ODH’s twice-a-week update on COVID fatalities Friday added 413 Ohio deaths. That pushed the statewide pandemic death toll past 35,000 — more people than live in the entire cities of Fairborn or Riverside or Centerville.

Base sees improvement

At Wright-Patterson, the base has seen improvements in hospital capacity, case incidence rate, percent positivity rate, number of new cases and other metrics.

“I’m thrilled to say that as of yesterday, Thursday, 10 February, all four of our surrounding counties dropped below Health Protection Condition Delta levels and are firmly in Health Protection Condition Charlie levels,” Miller said.

He said the base has heard from Dayton-area hospitals that they now have greater room in their facilities and fewer COVID-positive patients.

Masks are still required at Wright-Patterson in all buildings and facilities, according to base postings.

Miller is scheduled to discuss HPCON issues further in a Facebook Live meeting at 4:30 pm Feb. 16 on the wing’s Facebook page.

Following Department of Defense regulations, the base in the past year has moved back and forth among different health protection conditions when local COVID numbers warranted it.

Last summer, a lull in cases had allowed the base to establish HPCON Alpha, its least restrictive classification. But the base restored HPCON ‘Bravo’ in the first week of August, and as COVID numbers worsened, the base moved to HPCON Bravo-plus on Aug. 18. That status pushed worker occupancy at the base to 40% of its typical working population, down from 50%.

By early September last year, the base was at HPCON Charlie, and early in the new year, the base moved to HPCON Delta.

Pre-pandemic, about 30,000 people went to work at Wright-Patterson every day, most of them driving on base from surrounding communities.

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