Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
As of 5 p.m. Aug. 6, Fort Leavenworth was officially updated to health protection condition (HPCON) Bravo status because of the rise in COVID-19 cases in the Greater Kansas City, Leavenworth County and Fort Leavenworth areas.
To address what this change means, Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth Commanding General Lt. Gen. Theodore Martin hosted a Town Hall meeting Aug. 9 broadcast live on the Fort Leavenworth Facebook page.
The new HPCON-level status gives commanders authority to allow up to 50 percent of their workforce to telework with priority given to those who are medically vulnerable or those who have family members who are medically vulnerable.
“(People are) my No. 1 priority, their safety and protection,” Martin said. “Our best advice is that if you are medically able to get the vaccination, you stand the best chance of not becoming hospitalized to any variant of the COVID-19 virus.”
Following Martin’s opening remarks, Col. Garrick Cramer, Munson Army Health Center commander, spoke about COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and vaccinations.
Cramer said the number of COVID-19 cases are rapidly increasing on Fort Leavenworth and in the surrounding area; however, people testing positive who are fully vaccinated are experiencing mild cases.
“Hospitalizations are not increasing,” Cramer said. “People are getting sick, people are testing positive, but the overwhelming majority are not being required to get hospitalization care, and then those who are getting hospitalization care, the overwhelming majority are not going into the (intensive care unit).”
MAHC offers vaccines every Thursday at the Frontier Conference Center. Adults 18 and older can walk in from 9-11 a.m. to receive the first or second dose of the Moderna vaccine. A minimum requirement of 28 days is needed between the first and second shot.
Adults and children 12 years old and older can walk in from noon to 3 p.m. to receive the first or second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. A minimum requirement of 21 days is needed between the first and second shot. IDs are required.
Both vaccines have a 30 percent reaction rate, but the severity of reactions ultimately vary from person to person, Cramer said. Both vaccines are approximately 85 percent effective against the Delta variant.
“They’re both fantastic vaccines,” Cramer said.
While Fort Leavenworth is at HPCON-Bravo, Martin said the Child Development Centers will continue with HPCON-Alpha level of usage.
Gyms and pools will remain open. Face coverings are required in the gyms and are required until swimmers reach the pool deck at all pools.
All in-person behavioral health appointments at MAHC will also continue.
“That’s very important because as we deal with another bout of partial isolation of the force, my primary concern is that we don’t lose track of folks that are in distress,” Martin said. “We cannot lose the day-to-day, week-to-week personal interaction so that we know when somebody is in distress so that we can get them the help they need. …That’s one of the lessons we’ve learned in (Training and Doctrine Command) over the past 18 months.”
Finally, there are currently no travel restrictions.
“We watch this like a hawk. This isn’t 18 months ago when we really didn’t understand what this virus is capable of, we didn’t understand what the threat was, we weren’t equipped to defeat the threat. Now we have the most powerful weapon in the arsenal and that is the vaccine,” Martin said. “We will do our very best to get the vaccine to anybody who needs it.
“There’s a lot of discussion about the efficacy about the vaccine, but the numbers speak for themselves. From a military perspective, the best defense is to get vaccinated,” he said. “If you are in a vulnerable population, we will make sure that we take the appropriate steps to safeguard you.
“You can have confidence in (CAC) Command Sergeant Major (Stephen) Helton and I that as soon as we can modify the health protection conditions to less restrictive, we will do that, and if the situation worsens and we need to move to a higher level, we will make that decision, too.”
For the full town hall, visit the Fort Leavenworth Facebook page.