Military monitors activities because of COVID |

Military monitors activities because of COVID

By Steve Ranson Nevada News Group
Precautions are being taken at military installations Northern Nevada such as “No Touch” ID card checks at NAS Fallon.
Steve Ranson/LVN

Navy, National Guard and NDVS maintain essential services

Naval Air Station Fallon and Nevada National Guard installations continue to monitor the COVID-19 virus on a daily basis.

NAS Fallon public affairs officer Zip Upham said the air station has taken precautions to minimize the risk to all personnel. U.S. Fleet Forces Command elevated on Friday its health protection measures to Health Protection Condition (HPCON) C minus for Navy installations in the 48 contiguous U.S. states and Alaska. Accordingly, installations such as NAS Fallon and the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center will continue to maintain fleet essential services such as air operations and emergency management through all HPCON levels.

Upham, though, said directives could change after a carrier air wing wraps up its training at the sprawling base southeast of Fallon.

To help prevent the potential spread of the virus among visitors to the Navy installations, he said security forces are implementing “no-touch” ID checks at all access points on to and within the installations.

Personnel accessing the installations and other entry control points should be prepared to maintain possession of their IDs while the gate guards view or scan them for access verification.

According to Navy guidelines, HPCON C coincides with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warning level 3 that indicates sustained community transmission. Upham said most commands including Fallon’s have been implementing the measures formalized by HPCON C (minus) to include strict hygiene (no handshaking, wipe common-use items); social distancing, postponing or cancelling non-essential activities and avoiding large groups of more than 10 people.

Upham said NAS Fallon updated its list Friday afternoon of essential and nonessential services and tenants.

The commissary, Navy Exchange, gas station and micromart, medical (including dental and pharmacy), housing office, Fleet and Family Support Center, DEERS ID card office, Pass and Decal office, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, legal assistance (active-duty only) and the Child Development Center and School Age Care are open.

Upham said the commissary has also implemented restrictions. Doors open for everyone at 9 a.m. Tuesday-Saturday, and every patron must have an official ID card. Guests will not be allowed. Also, limitations have been placed on the purchase of certain items such as cases of water, bleach, eggs and milk.

The Navy also issued the following measures that are now in place:

• Cancel unit and installation sponsored events and large public gatherings on installations.

• Issue instructions to personnel to avoid large public gatherings and practice social distancing.

• Maximize telework plans for telework ready employees.

• Continue to approve leave and travel to and from the area on a case-by-case basis.

• Coordinate with state and local authorities to synchronize in-garrison self-monitoring guidance for personnel returning from higher risk locations.

• Assess travelers, in accordance with current guidance, upon arrival from other areas and inform them of any local monitoring and movement expectations.

• Evaluate operations at visitor control centers: utilize electronic means to the maximum extent possible to grant installation access.

• Discontinue waiting room utilization if social distancing cannot be maintained. If necessary, direct customers to secondary holding areas until called.

• All commands coordinate with contractors, vendors, delivery services, etc., to ensure their personnel are not performing services while sick or symptomatic.

Brig. Gen. Ondra Berry, Nevada’s adjutant general, issued guidelines to military and civilian personnel in both the Army and Air National Guard. Because the COVID virus is evolving rapidly , he said the Guard must stay informed and disseminate information.

Last week, Berry said all nonessential full-time employees will work from home, and supervisors determined who would report to the office. Furthermore, he said April’s weekend training drill will be postponed.

“We will allow for smaller groups or individuals to makeup drill over time,” he said. “However, we want to eliminate large gatherings of Guardsmen at their duty stations.”

The Department of Defense has halted official travel for members of the military, civilians and their families until May 11.

Governors in every state and the territories have issued Declarations of Emergency, which will allow for the mobilization of National Guard units. So far, governors in 28 states have mobilized various units of the National Guard to assist in the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of Monday, Nevada hasn’t activated any components of either the Army or Air National Guard.

Current National Guard COVID-19 response missions include, but are not limited to: Weapons of Mass Destruction — Civil Support Teams (WMD-CSTs); Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) training and sample collection; response planners; support to medical testing facilities; response liaisons and support to state Emergency Operations Centers; support to healthcare professionals — assessments, transportation; logistics support; assisting with disinfecting/cleaning of common public spaces; providing transportation support for health care providers; collecting and delivering samples; and assisting with sample administration.

“As other states are requested to support civil authorities, those numbers can change rapidly,” Berry said. “Each state that has declared an emergency has the authority to call up the National Guard.”

The Nevada Department of Veterans Services has updated its list of events. Vietnam War remembrance ceremonies on Saturday in Reno and Carson City are cancelled as is the Veterans Legislative Symposium in Las Vegas.

For those seeking the assistance of a Veterans Service Officer (VSO), call 702-830-2000 and a VSO telephone call will be arranged.

For those seeking interments at either the Northern or Southern Veterans Memorial Cemetery, the NDVS is asking families if they will agree to postpone interments. Arrangements are being made for some scheduled casket interments, but ceremonies will be limited to immediate family members only (Spouse, sibling, children).

NDVS has launched “virtual visits” at the state’s veterans homes in Boulder City and Sparks to keep families connected and residents safe.

“Protecting the veterans in our care is our top priority but we also recognize the importance of family and friends,” said Kat Miller, NDVS director. “Virtual visits help strike a balance between quality of care and quality of life.”

The NDVS said residents have access to devices programmed with video messaging software, and families can call to check on their welfare throughout the day.

The Nevada Veterans Coalition announces it monthly unaccompanied service on Thursday at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley has been cancelled.