What is COVID-19?
On Jan. 30, 2020, the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency of international concern for the 2019 novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. On Jan. 31, 2020, the secretary of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency in the United States and announced new measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The current epidemic, which originated in mainland China, has demonstrated the capacity of COVID-19 to spread globally. While supporting other government agencies’ response to the COVID-19 threat, the Department of the Air Force is responding appropriately to protect the health of the force and maintain operational readiness.
Central Appointment Line: DSN: 736-2273 or COMM: 940-676-2273
Nurse Advice Line (24/7): 1-800-874-2273 (the NAL is also experiencing high call volumes). Web app to text chat or video chat at https://mhsnurseadviceline.com.
Yes. Sheppard announced its first case of Coronavirus, or COVID-19, on March 25, 2020. As of March 27, there were 23 positive case in Wichita County, Texas, where Sheppard is located, including the single case at Sheppard. We urge people to continue to follow basic preventive and protective measures such as washing hands, practicing social distancing, suspending travel, staying home if sick, and cleaning and disinfecting common or shared objects and surfaces.
We are taking proactive steps to encourage all Department of the Air Force personnel to follow Force Health Protection and CDC guidance to avoid contracting or spreading respiratory illnesses like the flu or COVID-19. There are contingency plans in place and we are taking steps to educate and safeguard our military and civilian personnel, family members and base communities in preventing a widespread outbreak. We are continuing to work with our interagency and local partners to strengthen global detection and response to COVID-19.
We have a strong coalition of partners on Sheppard and in surrounding communities, and we’ve been working together for weeks to prepare for COVID-19.
If we do start to see cases in the local area, we are trying to limit the number of people contacted. Even if you do not fall within the “significant risk” category, we strongly encourage:
If you have traveled in or through a location where the disease is active, whether personal or official capacity, be prepared to be in self-isolation status for 14 days upon your return. This applies to all members of Team Sheppard, whether military, civilian or family member. Please do not report directly to your unit, the medical clinic, finance, personnel or any other agency before being screened and cleared to do so.
The short answer is yes. Handwashing can help prevent illness. Taking 20 seconds to lather up, scrub your hands, rinse and dry is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs. Hand hygiene is so important to preventing the spread of disease. If we can limit the spread of influenza and COVID-19, we can limit the number of people who end up in our hospitals and emergency rooms.
If you or someone you think you know might have the virus, do not report to the clinic. If you are in self-isolation or have traveled to areas of concern, call the 82nd Medical Group Public Health Flight at 940-676-3052 or the Public Health On-call phone at 940-235-7769. TRICARE beneficiaries should call the Nurse Advice Line at 1-800-874-2273. Always call 9-1-1 if you are experiencing an emergency.
Symptoms to watch for include:
A lot of these symptoms are very similar to seasonal allergies and flu.
We are diligently working to be able to do testing here at the MDG. Once this begins, will be following current CDC guidelines for testing and are prioritizing patients with fever or signs of lower respiratory illness (cough or shortness of breath). Providers will consider such things as severity of the illness, age, and chronic medical conditions, along with travel history and potential exposure to someone diagnosed with COVID-19. We will NOT be testing individuals who have not recently traveled or who have had close contact with a sick traveler.
Social distancing is one of the most effective means of limiting and preventing the spread of COVID-19. There are about 6,000 hospitals in the United States and at any given time, 2/3s of the beds are full from patients involved in motor vehicle accidents, some who have had a heart attack and stroke, and other serious medical conditions. Social distancing will help lessen the spread of the virus so that our medical treatment facilities will have the capacity to care for those with the aforementioned health complications and severe cases of Coronavirus.
We recommend that everyone stay away from crowded places. If your 65 years old or older and you’re immunocompromised, there is a greater risk that this disease can have a severe effect on your health.
If you’re under 65, we still recommend that you stay away from areas and events with large gatherings. The idea here is to prevent you from getting a mild form of the disease and spreading it to others, especially those in a high-risk category. We all have to do our part to keep ourselves safe and healthy, look out for the health and safety of others, and flatten the curve of the spread of Coronavirus.
HPCONS were introduced in 2019 and are similar to Force Protection Conditions (FPCONs); FPCONs inform the populace about potential physical threats, while HPCONs inform about potential health threats. HPCON levels include:
As with FPCON levels, changes in HPCON levels are communicated through official command and control channels, with possible augmentation with public affairs channels. HPCON signs may be posted in key high traffic areas.
Specific information and actions will vary based on circumstances and will be communicated along with the overall HPCON level. Personnel should carefully follow all guidance and directives to ensure individual and community health and safety, as well as overall mission readiness.
Sheppard Installation and 82nd Training Wing Commander Col. Kenyon Bell implemented HPCON Charlie on March 26, 2020.
The Secretary of the Air Force has directed that all Air Force installations implement Health Protection Condition (HPCON) Charlie. This is in keeping with similar actions taken by our sister services. This puts all military installations in the same posture as we collectively work to meet the Secretary of Defense’s three priorities in fighting COVID-19:
1. Protect our people and their families
2. Ensure our ability to conduct essential missions in defense of the nation
3. Support the all-government effort against Coronavirus
At the same time, to ensure that all available measures and authorities are at our disposal here, I will declare a Public Health Emergency for Sheppard AFB. This will also keep our activities and efforts in harmony with our surrounding communities, which have taken similar actions in recent days. We continue to stay linked with the ongoing efforts of the Health District.
This is the way a self-isolation period works. The incubation period – the time you get the virus to the time you exhibit symptoms – is 2-14 days. If you return from a high-risk area such as a Level 2 or 3 travel country and you stay home for 14 days and you do not have an illness, that means you are not infected and you are not going to spread it to other people. That is why it is important that we ask people to stay home and follow guidelines.
The confluence of an early allergy season, a continuing flu season, and COVID-19 concerns has resulted in unprecedented demand for pharmacy services. As our staff work tirelessly to meet the needs of our patient population, we are encouraging all patients to exercise good judgment in their utilization of pharmacy services. If you are sick, feel you may be contagious, or are at increased risk of complications from COVID-19, please do not travel to the clinic. Instead, call the pharmacy at 940-676-2273. We will work to ensure you receive your medication without exposing yourself or others to unnecessary risk.
For those that must visit the Pharmacy we are committed to protecting our patient population from viral illness. To this end, the Pharmacy has implemented the following precautionary measures:
Our dental clinic is following the ADA (American Dental Association) COVID-19 treatment guidelines. We are delaying routine dental cleanings, treatments such as fillings and crowns and focusing on Active Duty annual exams and treatment as well as dental pain. The dental front desk staff is reaching out to patients already scheduled for routine work to cancel their appointments and reschedule for a later date. Sick call appointments can still be made through the Central Appointment Line.
Please consider delaying routine care or follow-up in the clinic if you feel this would be appropriate. This will allow us to save appointments for those needing more urgent care.
If you have a medical emergency, please dial 911 on base or proceed to the Emergency Department at United Regional. If you feel you must be seen in the clinic within the next 24-72 hours, please call our Central Appointment Line. Alternatively, the Nurse Advice Line is also available to you 24/7.
If you have mild cold or flu-like symptoms and feel comfortable providing self-care at home, please continue to do so. If you need medical assistance, please call the Nurses Advice Line or the Care Line and we will have a nurse speak with you or create a t-con for you. Our priority is to reach those patients who have reported symptoms.
If you have a routine appointment scheduled during your ROM status, we will not be able to see you in the clinic until your ROM is lifted; please reschedule your appointment via the Central Appointment Line or at TRICARE Online for after your ROM end date. We ask that you NOT come into the clinic if you are on ROM unless you have received verbal instructions from our staff to do so. Please notify our staff that you are in ROM status upon arrival to the clinic.
To prevent the spread of illness within your homes, please follow the CDC’s guidelines: “Interim Guidance for Preventing the Spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Homes and Residential Communities” https://www.cdc.gov/…/2019…/hcp/guidance-prevent-spread.html.
There are currently two drive-thrus in the Wichita Falls area. However, you must meet the criteria to get tested. It will take time to receive the test results, therefore, it is best to self-isolate before they are given to you. You can also call the SAFB Medical Clinic 940-676-CARE (2273) to see if you meet the criteria to get tested.
Talk to your leadership. This should have already occurred in some areas. Priority one is about taking care of our people.
Currently, SAFB does not have the resources such as the number of thermometers or kits to take everyone’s temperatures. This comes back to being socially responsible. If you don’t feel well, you need to tell someone and then avoid coming into work. Keep that in mind so that we are protecting ourselves and each other.
If you have concerns with where a contractor has traveled, please contact the Contracting Officer Representative or the Contracting Officer and let them know your concerns. The Contracting Officer will contact the company’s management and determine the necessary steps that can be taken to protect the health and safety or our Airmen.
Contractors are an essential part of our mission supporting both the 82nd TRW and the 80th FTW. The installation commander will decide which contracts he deems are mission essential and only those contractors that are mission essential will be authorized on the installation. Contracting Officers will notify the contractors who are mission essential and those that are not mission essential.
If the contract that a contractor works under is deemed mission essential by the installation commander, the contractor will be notified by the Contracting Officer and the employees will be able to come to work under the shelter-in-place order.
Depending on the type of contract, whether the company replaces the individual or not is generally the company’s decision to make. The government does not own the employee or direct personal actions. Certainly, the government and company might have discussions that realize the company’s performance is at risk, which may achieve the intended result. Bottom line, the government generally should not direct a contractor to replace an employee who is out on extended medical leave.
You can purchase supplies (hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, etc) and services in support of COVID-19 up to the mirco-purchase threshold. Due to President Donald Trump declaring the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency, the micro-purchase threshold has been increased from $10,000 to $20,000.
Contact your Contracting Office and we will work with you to expedite your purchase.
Visitors are not allowed to come onto the installation that do not have official business on SAFB. If a visitor does have official business that needs to come on base, coordinate with your Chain of Command. Your group commander has that approval authority.
Yes, there will be set times for certain groups to utilize those facilities. The information has been finalized and disseminated.
This it the type of innovation and effort that we need. If you are interested in being a part of the solution, we have a team that is attacking the difficult problems. Contact your First Sergeant, Chief or Commander to get linked with the CAT so that we may utilize your unique talents.
We are monitoring all of that. Those types of cases, like a breakout of a cluster of confirmed cases, will certainly be a decision point for us to determine what portion of the mission can shut down, or which group should be put into quarantine. As it stands right now, if anyone gets tested or believe they might be COVID-19 positive, protective measures are being taken.
Even if you are deemed as a non-mission essential member, you are still authorized to accomplish essential tasks (grocery shopping, getting gas, etc). If you still have access to base, you are still authorized to come onto base for those essential functions.
This is to be determined. We are all being informed as you are being informed. As the virus has migrated across the globe, some areas that had their first case December 2019 are still lock down status. With this type of projection, these restrictions will most likely still be required for April and May, with a possibility of being lifted in June. Adhere to the guidelines in place, it will greatly help flatten the curve so that we do not out pace our medical capacity.
We do not have plans to close the CDC or Youth Center. We understand that local and area schools have chosen to extend their spring breaks, but we do not plan to close our services. The Youth Center will provide school-aged care for children whose schools have extended their breaks. We do have limited slots, so call the Youth Center at 940-676-4599.
The Sheppard AFB fitness centers have been closed as leadership continues to implement measures for combat the spread of COVID-19. Personnel still have opportunities for fitness as BeaverFit USA containers have been placed outside the fitness centers for use, and XCaliber containers have been placed at the main track and the 1/6-mile track. The containers have an assortment of fitness materials and activities that allow personnel to exercise and workout while maintaining proper social distancing guidelines. These containers, for example, have elastic bands with handles, ring bands, ab rollers, kettle bells, medicine balls, dumbbells, a bench, a set of bumper plates, an EZ curl bar and, of course, wipes to sanitize all the equipment after use.
All intramural sports and aerobic classes have been postponed/canceled.
As of March 23, Sheppard’s Equal Opportunity Office has suspended walk-in services until further notice. Consultations will be done by phone only. Complaints or concerns can still be worked through email at 82TRWEO@us.af.mil or call 940-676-4393 should you need any assistance.
No, however, there are changes every day. But for now there are no plans to close these services.
The guidance is still the same on the use of these facilities and there have been no changes.
The CDC and the Youth Center being professionally cleaned.
Yes, social distancing measures have already been put in place at the dining facility. If you are not seeing that, please inform your MTLs and chain of command.
At this time, Sheppard AFB continues to train and produce highly qualified, mission-ready Airmen. We will continue to monitor the local situation and make changes as needed. That being said, Airmen will still be recruited, report to Basic Military Training, come to Sheppard or one of our detached locations for pipeline training, and then PCS to their first duty assignment, with a few exceptions.
Airmen in Training (AiT) with orders to go to a Level 3 country will be diverted to a different location. Please contact you Student Assignments Counselor for further guidance on your assignement.
AiTs with orders to go to a Level 2 country will be allowed to proceed to their assignment, however, they will not be allowed to take their dependent(s) with them. Level 2 countries have restricted concurrent travel.
To prevent further spread of Coronavirus, leave en route is no longer authorized. Airmen in Training will proceed directly to their first duty station.
The Recruiter Assistance Program has been suspended for the same reason.
If your assignment is CONUS to CONUS, including Alaska and Hawaii, your travel should continue to your first duty station if you were enroute when the order came down on March 16. Those traveling to a Level 3 country will be directed to remain in place until further guidance is provided. Our MPF has been working to connect with the effected Airmen. If you are in this category and haven’t spoken with the MPF, call 940-676-6426 or call your chain of command.
Our dining facilities are implementing enhanced sanitation procedures. Our contractor who provides food services is working that. Expect to see extra cleaning throughout the dining facilities as we work to minimize contact spread of Coronavirus. Self-service items such as salad bars and other areas will go away until further notice. Some self-service items will be replaced, but it will take a little time for our contractor to meet to accomplish that.
We also provide hand sanitizer at the entrances of dining facilities for Airmen and other guests to use while entering and leaving the facility. Use it. Don’t skip it. It’s one of best things you can do to reduce risk.
Right now, we are going to continue our flying training mission – it has been deemed mission essential by Air Education and Training Command leadership. We’re going to balance that mission with maintaining proper and expected hygiene and training combat pilots for NATO.
Right now, the answer from 19th Air Force is we will continue PCS actions to keep our pipeline moving.
For the next ENJJPT class, some of those students fall within the current travel ban, so they will not be coming to the United States. So, the next class will have a few fewer international students than expected. The following class in May will fall just outside the May 11 travel restriction, so 80th Flying Training Wing leadership will re-evaluate international students expected to attend that class and make a decision on their attendance at that time.
We have a number of ENJJPT personnel, both American and international, who are self-monitoring and conducting self-isolation based on travel or symptoms of potential infection. They have done this out of an abundance of caution and we have support networks in place to make sure they have what they need while they go through their 14 days of self-isolation. That is not a blanket decision; it is a case-by-case decision made by some presentation of illness consistent with COVID-19 – it is still flu and allergy season – or travel.
If you are on SAFB and in training, you will continue until you complete your training. After you have completed your training, you will then head back to your home base.
The only restrictions are for students coming from OCONUS. Students coming from other locations will continue with their training. Training is mission essential. Students may be subjected to quarantine depending on what location they are coming from, per AETC policy.
Right now, those classes will continue. In some cases, we will be making a request to stop some of those classes since there are not enough students to justify hosting the class. Currently, students for supplemental and skill-level training are still coming into SAFB, but that can change soon. One of the reasons why that could change is if their state is locking down, then we cannot receive those individuals.
BMT is taking extraordinary measures to ensure they have a clean population. When trainees first get there, they will be quarantined in the Recruit Housing & Training Complex. The RHT is in a remote location to indoctrinate these trainees.
The trainee who was found positive was quarantined in the RHT, therefore, they were not exposed to trainees who had already started BMT.
Rather than bussing Airmen from San Antonio, starting on 27 March 2020, Airmen will be flown from San Antonio, Texas, with extra protective measures. It is currently being discussed on flying them out from potential hot spots through contract or Air Force air.
No, AiT are mission essential to training. After they complete their training, they will PCS to their next assignment.
In order to accomplish the mission, you do these things to the best of your ability. However, it is difficult to avoid being 6-feet apart with others in the classroom setting. It is best to limit it as much as possible. This does not mean that once you leave the classroom that you continue that practice. Social distancing of 6 feet should still continue outside the classroom setting.
Follow-on training will still continue across the total force. Guard members should stay in contact with their units since a lot of guard members are being called up for duty other than training.
There is not a plan for a 60-day pause in training. The “60-days” rumor can be the misunderstanding of the 60-day stop movement, which pertains to Permanent Party members.
If we get to a point where we can no longer gather in any group setting, training will be set up to a virtual-type set up. But we haven’t moved to that point yet. We have to remain flexible. If there are any changes, they will be publicized.
If you are part of the group with the restriction of movement on base, that order is still in effect. If you have a hardship situation, you can coordinate that with your chain of command.
AiT will have toilet paper available to them in their CQ areas (dormitories) and can contact their MTLs, if needed. There are currently new guidelines on the designated times for permanent party to access the commissary. Please avoid the need to hoard items such as hand sanitizer and toilet paper. The supply chain will continue to come and essential items will be supplied.
As of March 16, 2020, if you had an assignment or orders for Permanent Change of Station (PCS) to a Level 3 location, you are ordered to stop until the existing stop movement order expires on May 11 or until the guidance is superseded or amended. You will not proceed. PCSing to a level 2 country is now authorized. However all concurrent travel of dependents to level 2 countries is not approved at this time.
For all PCS actions leave en route is not authorized. However Airmen are authorized to take local leave and will follow local leave policies.
Only mission-essential travel will be allowed for military and civilians, and that will be determined by your chain of command. All other TDYs will be canceled. If you have a question about an upcoming TDY, ask your chain of command if it is essential.
If you are currently TDY and you need to return home to a Level 2 country, the United States, Alaska or Hawaii, you will be allowed to proceed back to your home station. However, if you are currently TDY in the United States, Alaska, Hawaii or a Level 2 country and your home station is a Level 3 country, you will need to hold in place and not return to your Level 3 country. This will put some people in a difficult situation, so please reach out to your chain of command if you are unable to return home.
For military, guidance is very clear. Even if we are on leave status, we are to keep our leave within the local area. Each base defines “local area” differently. The Sheppard AFB commander has defined it as within 60 miles of the installation.
Civilian leave can only be canceled based on mission necessity. However, there is no legal restriction that keeps our Air Force civilians or family members from traveling outside this 60-mile radius military members must adhere to. Civilians are highly encouraged to follow those guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
According to guidance, travel for medical appointments outside of the 60-mile radius is authorized for military personnel, which includes taking a family member to an appointment. This does not require a higher-level approval, but inform your chain of command if you have to travel outside the local area for this reason.
Other travel considerations will be made for reasons such as mission essential, humanitarian or hardship. These decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis by the first general officer or Senior Executive Service civilian in the chain of command.
Military members will not be charged leave unless there are extenuating circumstances. There will be a special duty status code for these instances.
As of now, civilians that are directed to self-monitor by the installation commander will be placed on weather and safety (admin) leave. If you start to develop symptoms while being directed to self-monitor, you will have to switch to either sick leave or use other time off categories (e.g., previously earned compensatory time off, credit hours, time off award, or leave without pay).
If you choose to self-monitor, the situation is different. You will need to take annual leave or other paid time off categories if you choose to self monitor. If you develop symptoms you may use sick leave. Contact your chain of command and/or the Civilian Personnel Office for more information.
Permanent Change of Station for civilians have been put on hold. AFPC will only process new hires if they are within the local area. This will be in effect until May 11 or until guidance is superseded or rescinded.
Those who are deemed mission essential will be provided a legal document. This legal document and your government ID will be presented to any authorities questioning why you are out during SIP. The local government, police and fire chief in the surrounding cities will understand that you will have to come to SAFB but you will have to have that documentation.
The per diem rate will not automatically change if you are TDY here. It is encouraged that you contact the SAFB DTS office or your home station’s DTS office.
Food, gas and medical are deemed essential. If there is any question outside of those three things that are essential, contact you chain of command.
For AiTs, those have already been re-assigned. They are in the process or have already received a CONUS assignment. For permanent party, we are still following the 60-day stop movement. There is no plan to re-assign those individuals that have current OCONUS assignments.
All sorts of contingencies and plans are being discussed at various levels. For example, if a stop movement needs to take place and when that occur. All those type of actions are in currently being discussed.
The stop movement order restricts permanent party members from PCSing out of SAFB. Not minimizing what our perm party does, just to keep the process moving forward for our training pipeline.
We continue to recruit and train since individuals are still allowed to retire and separate. Airmen are still needed to be brought in and trained in order to keep the population moving forward. Permanent Party members are not allowed to PCS at this time since they are not a part of the training apparatus.
There are stipulations in the rules that have been put in place for travel. If there is a hardship situation or personal situation that is causing you some stress or strain, you need to talk to someone, your supervisor, First Sergeant, or the chain of command. There is a waiver authority for everything. Some of those waiver authorities go all the way up to the Secretary of the Air Force. If it’s that important, we can get that approval. Also, many of those authorities have been delegated down to the first general officer in the chain and to the installation commander. Do not suffer in silence!
No, there are no changes or the need for change to WAPS testing. Testing for E5 cycle went pretty well, with only 6 more individuals that need to test. The status quo for WAPS testing will continue. Social distancing is and will be practiced in the WAPS center.
There have been a few changes with SRC starting March 28, 2020. The number of individuals that can enter the SRC will be limited. There will also be a limit on the number of individuals for each different area within the SRC, such as the game room or the music room. The FSS marketing team has provided the footprint that will assist with social distancing. Police each other and peers as you are utilizing the SRC and follow the signs and the directions. You will need to read the rules of engagement (ROE) before entering the facility. Please abide by these rules so that the SRC may be continued to be utilized.
***Do you have questions, ideas or feedback? Let us know.
• Col. Bell: Mini-Mall to undergo deep cleaning after employee tests positive
• Col. Bell elevates HPCON to Charlie
• Sheppard confirms first COVID-19 case
• Col. Bell raises Health Protection Condition to Bravo
• Col. Bell issues Restriction of Movement order for 82nd TRW Airmen in Training
• Col. Bell stresses calm, strict hygiene after areas first positive COVID-19 case
• Col. Bell announces HPCON Alpha
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As of April 7, 2020
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