Inside the Gates: JBER increases health protection amid rising COVID-19 cases
Airmen and soldiers told to avoid indoor and outdoor bars, as well as other establishments like breweries, pubs and nightclubs
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - On Friday, 673rd Air Base Wing and JBER Commander Col. Kirsten Aguilar announced in a Facebook video that the military installation would move from Health Protection Condition, or HPCON Bravo, to HPCON Charlie due to escalating COVID-19 numbers across Alaska, Anchorage and on the base itself.
“Over the last seven to 10 days we have seen significant increases on base mirroring what we’re seeing in anchorage and across Alaska,” Aguilar said. “As we’ve studied how COVID is spreading we’re seeing increases in transmission in the workplace, and off-duty social gatherings such as large gatherings.”
The tightening of restrictions includes not only airmen but also soldiers with U.S. Army Alaska. While the change to HPCON Charlie does not affect Fort Wainwright, the soldiers at that installation are also restricted from off-base establishments which primarily serve alcoholic beverages for on-site consumption just as the soldiers and airmen at JBER are restricted.
“It basically means that some of our services have been reduced in hours of operations and commanders and supervisors have been notified to maximize telework when carrying out mission-essential activity,” Army Col. Dean Denter, vice commander of the 673rd ABW & JBER said. “The health and safety of our military and civilian personnel that work on the installation here at JBER and their families are of great importance to us here.”
“Preventing airmen from entering establishments which primarily engage in the serving of alcohol beverages for on-site consumption is in the best interest of safeguarding and preserving our national security capabilities in supporting our local communities and the state of Alaska with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Denter said.
Social distancing, mask-wearing and sanitization standards were already in place prior to the switch to HPCON Charlie. They are now being reinforced by Col. Aguilar. The decision was made with the senior mission commands across JBER to help slow the spread of the virus across the installation.
“Given the increases in workplace transmissions, individual commands will take action to limit the presence of personnel in the workplace and ensure appropriate mitigation measures are in place,” Aguilar said.
Elevating to HPCON Charlie allows the installation to implement increased controls to protect service members, civilians and families, as much as possible while maintaining readiness and preserving warfighting capabilities.
Copyright 2020 KTUU. All rights reserved.