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    HEALTH, SAFETY ARE PRIORITY - Virtual town hall addresses COVID-19 concerns

    TH (9)

    Photo By Laura Levering | Fort Gordon Garrison Commander Col. Jim Clifford, right, responds to questions asked...... read more read more



    Story by Laura Levering 

    Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office

    The U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon held a COVID-19 Town Hall on Thursday from the garrison commander’s conference room.
    Maj. Gen. Neil S. Hersey, CCoE and Fort Gordon commanding general, was joined by CCoE and Fort Gordon Command Sgt. Maj. Delia Quintero, Fort Gordon Garrison Commander Col. Jim Clifford, 15th Signal Brigade Commander Col. John Baston, and Coronavirus (COVID-19) subject matter experts.
    The purpose of the town hall was to inform and educate Fort Gordon and surrounding communities on the facts of COVID-19 along with how Fort Gordon is handling the situation.
    “Education and accurate information about the virus – getting those out are ways that we can minimize the natural anxiety that I’m sure a lot of folks have with regard to any potential health crisis,” Hersey said during his opening remarks.
    Hersey went on to say that his priority remains ensuring the health and safety of Fort Gordon.
    “We’ve implemented some recent precautionary measures to many of the installation’s services to ensure that, and I will also say that is consistent with what other Army installations are doing … to protect their mission and protect their population.”
    Before turning the forum over to the first presenter, Hersey encouraged the community to follow the Fort Gordon and Cyber Center of Excellence social media platforms for up-to-date information moving forward.
    Lt. Col. Wendy Miklos, Dept. of Public Health, Eisenhower Army Medical Center, opened with a COVID-19 update that included an explanation of what it is, how it spreads, symptoms, preventive measures against the disease, and what to do if one suspects they have it.
    The best defense against it, she said, is washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    “You can hum your favorite tune, you can sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice to yourself, whatever works, but diligent washing of hands is our best defense,” she reiterated.
    Hand sanitizer is a backup, she added. Other ways to help prevent the virus from spreading include refraining from touching one’s face; if you must cough or sneeze, do so into elbow or tissue, and then discard tissue; stay home if there is any possibility of being sick; avoid close contact with people; and clean surfaces and objects more frequently. She also highly recommended that smokers stop smoking.
    “Many of the countries that we know have high smoking rates are also having high cases of morbidity and mortality with this virus,” Miklos said.
    There currently is no vaccine or treatment; only medication to help treat symptoms. And with a limited number of tests for COVID-19, the Center for Disease Control has reserved those tests for people exhibiting the most serious symptoms such as people with pneumonia who have traveled to an area with an ongoing spread, or those who have had close contact with someone who has tested positive.
    “Be mindful and remain calm – remember your preventive measure is handwashing,” Miklos said. “Please do not pilfer medical supplies. We will need those supplies for if we get a case of pneumonia and we have to hospitalize that person.”
    Anyone who suspects they may have COVID-19 should call their medical provider or the Georgia Hotline: 844-442-2681.
    Miklos was followed by Clifford, who provided an overview of preventive measure currently being implemented across the installation along with what has and has not changed in regards to daily operations.
    One of the more noticeable measures takes place upon arrival, where instead of handing one’s ID card to a gate guard, personnel must display their ID so that the gate guard can see it, then flip it to the other side where they can confirm the ID is valid.
    “That prevents us from having to have one person handle multiple ID cards across multiple vehicles and have a potential spread that way,” Clifford said.
    Several activities have been restricted to active duty only including all fitness facilities, the indoor pool and bowling center. Facilities that remain open to all patrons include Gordon Lakes Golf Course, Pointes West Army Resort, Woodworth Library, Auto Crafts Center, Hilltop Riding Stable, disc golf, and Tactical Advantage Sportsman’s Complex.
    “The reason we made decisions currently on those facilities is because of our ability to do social distancing in those locations,” Clifford said.
    Fort Gordon Dinner Theater, Bingo Palace, Intramural and Youth Sports, and Alternate Escape are all currently closed, and events that require large gatherings have either been canceled or postponed.
    The Main Exhange, Express stores, and Fort Gordon Commissary have altered their hours, and all restaurants on the installation are only offering take-out and drive-thru until further notice.
    Along with the Fort Gordon Facebook page, Clifford recommended that patrons follow each of facility’s respective Facebook pages for updates.
    “I’m confident we’ll pull through this. It’s just going to take some time,” Clifford said.
    In an effort to ease the minds of Soldiers in training and their families, Baston said that his team is also doing their part to minimize risks. Mass graduation ceremonies have stopped, Soldier-trainees are restricted to the installation (with the exception of local leave requests), Soldiers must clean/disinfect classroom spaces before and after class, and social distancing is being enforced during physical training, meal time and at other points throughout the day.
    “We are implementing different small things that can make a big difference across the brigade,” Baston said.
    Following Baston, the town hall open to viewers for a Q&A session.
    In closing, Hersey said that he believes the Army and Department of Defense are leading the way in aggressively getting after the disease.
    “I am confident that with the team we have here, we will mitigate this and we will do all we can to flatten the curve in getting after this disease, but we also have a very important mission that has to continue,” Hersey said. “We have to train our Nation’s Soldiers so we can be ready for whatever comes our way, and we have to continue to do those very important missions with the operational units that we have here at Fort Gordon. My promise to you is I will make responsible, informed decisions to do that while keeping our workforce safe.”
    The next Fort Gordon Facebook live COVID-19 Town Hall will be held Thursday at 11 a.m.
    View the town hall footage and a link for the slides shown during the town hall on the Fort Gordon Facebook page.



    Date Taken: 03.19.2020
    Date Posted: 01.01.2021 14:14
    Story ID: 365542
    Location: FORT GORDON, GA, US 

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