Military in NC see COVID-19 cases

This photo provided by the U.S. Army shows large tents The 82nd Airborne Division has established to provide accommodations for up to 600 soldiers, shown March 17, 2020 at Fort Bragg, N.C. In one of Bragg's remote training areas, large tents have popped up over the last few days to house hundreds of 82nd Airborne Division troops that are returning to the base from Afghanistan and other Middle East deployments. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Zach VanDyke via AP)

FORT BRAGG — According to a social media post by U.S Army installation Fort Bragg, the base currently has 12 positive COVID-19 cases, with two new cases reported by Cumberland County Health Department on March 28.

“The two positive individuals are a Department of the Army Civilian and their spouse (who had recently traveled out of country). They are isolated in their off post residence,” the Facebook post reads.

The post also says that Cumberland County Public Health is handling the investigation and will notify anyone who might need additional monitoring and testing.

In another Fort Bragg Facebook update on March 31, it was announced that new guidance had been released by the Department of Defense directing individual military installations to no longer release the numbers of COVID-19 cases present on their bases. The case reporting blackout is to “protect Operational Security,” but bases are to continue working with local health officials.

Fort Bragg has a population of 52,280 active-duty soldiers and 62,962 active-duty family members. Additionally, there are 12,624 reserve and temporary-duty students, 8,757 civilian employees and 3,516 contractors. All of these groups make Fort Bragg the largest base in terms of population in the country.

Fort Bragg troops who are or will be coming home from countries that pose a high COVID-19 risk, like Afghanistan, are required to comply with an immediate 14-day quarantine.

Barracks and tents have been supplied for soldiers who may need them and the USO of North Carolina has been providing those in quarantine with a steady supply of drinks, snacks and items to address personal hygiene needs. Fort Bragg and the USO have helped keep the quarantined soldiers entertained with game consoles, gym equipment and movies.

Fort Bragg troops will be deployed in the coming week to areas like New York and Washington State where COVID-19 cases are high. Units from Fort Bragg and the U.S. Army North will be assisting FEMA in those hard-hit areas.

Heading into Easter, Fort Bragg will conduct religious worship services virtually on Facebook Live on the “Fort Bragg Religious Support Office” Facebook page. Additional information and schedules of services can be found on the main Fort Bragg Facebook page.

The 82nd Airborne also announced that “All American Week 2020,” which had originally scheduled for May18-21, has been canceled. All American Week involves a series of events to celebrate the history of the 82nd Airborne Division’s past and present paratroopers.

The Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point saw its first COVID-19 case on March 30.

“Naval Health Clinic Cherry Point confirmed the first positive COVID-19 test result on MCAS Cherry Point, March 30, 2020. The patient was quarantined at home after returning from travel outside of the state, became symptomatic and was tested at the clinic,” tweeted the MCAS Cherry Point account.

According to a follow-up tweet, health officials determined that the transmission was travel related.

Prior to the case being reported and the individual being isolated, the base had already implemented “Health Protection Condition Charlie (HPCON-C)” as directed by Marine Corps Installations East, following guidance from the Department of Defense.

In the information posted by the air station, HPCON-C means that there are multiple confirmed cases of a disease, there is evidence of sustained community transmission or a report of multiple unlinked confirmed cases of disease such as 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), that people have been infected with the virus, and the spread is increasing.

According to the air station’s website, 53,000 people, including active duty and retired Marines, the civilian workforce, and their families, make up the total Cherry Point-related population.

“I want you to know I appreciate the efforts of everyone in the Cherry Point family to remain vigilant during this difficult time. This is not fun for anyone. But continued determination by each and every one of you will enable us to endure this unprecedented challenge and get back to our normal lives as soon as possible,” said Col. Mikel Huber, the commanding officer of the Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point, in a message on Facebook.

Under HPCON-C, access to the air station has been restricted to two main entries and exits. In addition, the air station is observing health safety measures like social distancing and teleworking. Cherry Point has also reduced the capacity or hours of operation of a number of the services on campus.

An April 3 Facebook message by Huber noted that tents had been erected next to an auto resale lot on Roosevelt Blvd.

“MCAS Cherry Point personnel are working with 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing to build a temporary living area that may be used to house healthy Marines and Sailors should our permanent housing barracks be necessary to support quarantine requirements,” Huber’s message said. “This is a proactive effort that will provide the air station expanded living capacity in the unlikely event it is needed.”

About A.P. Dillon 1252 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_