Wright-Patterson to remain in ‘public health emergency’

Col. Patrick Miller, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander, discusses adjustments to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s COVID-19 operating environment during a virtual town hall and situation update Aug. 4. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/CHRISTOPHER WARNER
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Col. Patrick Miller, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander, discusses adjustments to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s COVID-19 operating environment during a virtual town hall and situation update Aug. 4. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/CHRISTOPHER WARNER

COVID numbers headed in ‘right direction,’ but base precautions remain

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base will remain in health protection condition “Charlie,” Col. Patrick Miller, 88th Air Base Wing commander, said Wednesday.

Miller said COVID numbers are headed in the right direction. But he cautioned that ongoing precautions, such as getting tested and staying on top of “breakthrough” and other cases, remain priorities.

“We need to keep after this,” the Wright-Patterson installation commander said in a video on the base’s Facebook page.

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Since early September, Wright-Patterson has been in health protection condition (HPCON) status “Charlie,” considered a public health emergency, with the base’s occupancy status capped at less than 25% — no more than about 7,500 or fewer employees on base.

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

The story of the summer for Wright-Patterson has been one of ever more rigorous health protection conditions as the Delta variant tore through the Dayton area and Ohio. The base set HPCON alpha in June after a lull in cases before moving to a more stringent HPCON bravo in the first week of August.

On Aug. 18, the base moved to HPCON bravo-plus, a status pushing occupancy at the base to 40% of its typical working population, down from 50%.

“The trends we are seeing right now will hopefully bring us down to ‘bravo-plus,’ and I can’t wait to get there,” Col. and Dr. Michael Crowder, the Wright-Patterson public health emergency officer, said Wednesday.

Uniformed members of the military face a Nov. 2 deadline to get fully vaccinated. Active-duty members should have gotten their second dose of a two-dose vaccine — the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines —Tuesday.

It takes two weeks after that second dose before the vaccine offers full protection.

There are medical and religious exemptions available to those who seek them, Miller noted. “Know that our team is doing their due diligence to assess those,” he said.

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