Fort Carson Soldiers, civilians and Families,
As our nation responds to the coronavirus pandemic, it is imperative we continue to communicate effectively to the lowest level within our formations, to provide the most accurate and timely information to all of our service members, civilians and Families. Command Sgt. Maj. T.J. Holland, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, and I fully appreciate that there is a level of uncertainty and concern across our community, and we are working with leadership across Fort Carson to alleviate this to the greatest extent possible. We will continue to leverage our communications platforms to address these concerns. (Virtual town halls were conducted March 16-17, 2020) on Facebook to provide the community an update and answer questions.
First and foremost, there are still zero confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Fort Carson, and we greatly appreciate all of your collective efforts to safeguard our community, thus far. If this status changes, we will provide an immediate update.
As of (March 17, 2020), we have screened (nearly 3,500) personnel in the past two weeks for COVID-19 and only (25) personnel required further testing with the state of Colorado. We have restricted movement for 47 personnel, which includes Soldiers, Family members, and DA civilians, because of recent overseas travel or possible exposure to COVID-19.
Let me be clear — my top priorities are protecting the greater Fort Carson community and maintaining mission readiness for Fort Carson units. If our adversaries choose to test our nation during this time, Fort Carson will be ready to answer the call. It will require some changes to how we do business, but we will continue to train and maintain the highest levels of readiness expected of the forces that call the Mountain Post home.
As a health protection measure and public safety precaution, at 9 a.m. March 16, 2020, I (elevated) the health protection condition for Fort Carson and its personnel. To this end, we are continuing to implement Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 preventative measures and medical screening protocols. We are emphasizing the following precautions:
- Events, such as religious services and large meetings, will be conducted virtually
- Large gatherings will be avoided
- (Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, DFMWR) facilities, businesses and recreation programs are closed until further notice: all (DFMWR) gym facilities, outdoor recreation, auto craft, library, Elkhorn Conference Center, bowling alley, Army Community Service’s outreach and the large classes, (Department of Motor Vehicles and the tax center)
- In accordance with recent CDC guidance, Fort Carson will limit all events to crowds less than 50 people
We ask that all of our personnel protect themselves and those around them by employing protective measures including practicing good hand washing, social distancing, avoid hand shaking, wiping down commonly-used surfaces and taking appropriate actions if feeling sick. These measures can dramatically decrease the risk of infection and slow the spread of COVID-19.
We recognize this is a very dynamic situation, and conditions will continue to change. We continue to make risk-based decisions, informed by health experts, senior leaders and government leaders from the local to national level. We continue to strive to actively communicate those decisions through the chain of command. Accordingly, we will also maximize the use of Fort Carson social media outlets to flatten communications and provide timely information to our Soldiers, civilians and Families.
The following information provides an update on some of the most significant decisions and policy changes we have implemented over the past 48 hours. We acknowledge these topics are not all-inclusive, and I encourage you to submit questions through your chain of command. We will answer them as quickly as possible.
Child Development Centers (CDCs)
I have directed that CDCs remain open and at full capacity for the time being. If local conditions or the Health Protection Condition level changes, we will reassess this decision.
Stop movement/domestic travel restrictions
Effective March 16, 2020 through May 11, 2020, all Soldiers, DA Civilians and DA Family members, whose transportation is government-funded, will stop movement. This policy applies to Permanent Change of Station (PCS), Temporary Duty (TDY), and other official travel. Until the lifting of domestic travel restrictions prescribed above, Fort Carson agencies may only onboard civilian employees within the local commuting area. Individuals pending retirement or separation within the next 60 days are exempt from these stop move restrictions.
Leaves and passes (military service members only)
Effective March 16, 2020 through May 11, 2020, only local leave and passes will be approved. The local area is the area within the limits of Fort Carson and the metropolitan areas of Colorado Springs, Fountain, Pueblo, and greater Teller and El Paso Counties to a radius of 30 miles away from Fort Carson. Those living more than 30 miles from Fort Carson may be on leave at their residential community, and continue to transit to and from Fort Carson. Submit exceptions to policy for mission critical, undue hardship and humanitarian reasons through your chain of command to the commanding general, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson.
If you are currently on leave that ends during the stop movement window (March 16, 2020 to May 11, 2020), seek guidance from your chain of command.
Temporary Duty Travel
If you are currently TDY, seek guidance from your chain of command. Generally, you will remain on TDY until mission complete and then return to Fort Carson. Travel by patients and medical providers for the purpose of medical treatment for DOD personnel and their Family members is authorized.
Permanent change of station (PCS)
All PCS moves are on hold until May 11, 2020. If you have already departed Fort Carson, enroute to a new CONUS duty station, you will continue with PCS movement within the U.S. Personnel who have not departed Fort Carson will sign back in to their losing command. If you have shipped household goods, but have not departed, contact your chain of command for assistance.
Quarantine and isolation requirements
Quarantine vs. isolation. I realize there is still confusion with the difference between quarantine and isolation. As a reminder:
- Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who have potentially been exposed to a communicable disease, to see if they become sick.
- Isolation is the physical segregation for persons who have the symptoms of, or a confirmed diagnosis of, an infectious disease.
If you have returned from outside the Continental United States or high-risk area, you will be quarantined for a period of 14 days.
Fort Carson is reviewing our telework agreements and will assess and provide guidance for eligible telework personnel in the next few days.
It is imperative that we maintain the greatest level of readiness, while taking common sense precautions against the spread of COVID-19. Commanders at echelon will continue with current training plans. Decisions on upcoming combat training center rotations will be made at a later date. At this time, units will continue to execute daily accountability formations in conjunction with scheduled physical training. Commanders will not execute consolidated physical training above the squad level and will apply mitigation measures when holding larger formations. I have suspended all combatives training until further notice.
To reduce risk to the force and maintain readiness, effective March 15, 2020, Fort Carson closed all (DFMWR) fitness centers.
Ivy Warrior Restaurants
We are assessing “grab-and-go” options while reducing contact exposure within the Ivy Warrior Restaurants to minimize the risk in each facility.
Exchanges and Commissaries
Exchanges and Commissaries will remain open. They will increase cleaning standards, and are reviewing operating processes, hours of operation and access policies (The Fort Carson Commissary has implemented quantity limits on select items due to increased demand and to ensure that everyone has equal access to essential items. The following products are limited to two per person: antibacterial gels, wipes and sprays, hand soap, bleach, toilet paper and tissues. In addition, commissary patrons will be limited per visit to purchase the amount of food and other items that can fit into one grocery cart, below the top level of that cart. Due to the unforeseen increase in demand, the Exchange is limiting the purchase of the following items to three per customer: hand sanitizers, face masks, disposable gloves, rubbing alcohol, thermometers, paper towels, toilet paper, bleach, disinfecting wipes and cleaners.)
(All chapel services and programs are cancelled until further notice. Sunday Mass at 9 a.m. will be live-streamed at the Our Lady of Fort Carson Facebook page at and ChapelNext, Fort Carson will livestream Sunday at 10:30 a.m.)
Legal and tax services
(The Legal Assistance Office will close but will provide services via telephone or other remote means. Call the office at 526-5572 or visit the Fort Carson Legal Assistance Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/FORTCARSONLEGALASSISTANCE/.)
In closing, we will take necessary precautions to maintain readiness and protect our Soldiers, Families and civilians across the Mountain Post. We will make risk-informed decisions, based on facts and analysis. The situation will continue to change, and we will make the appropriate adjustments and keep you informed. Going forward, we will focus on what we CAN do. I am confident that we will find ways to thrive in adversity. CSM Holland and I are honored to be on your team and together we will continue to stand READY and protect the Best Hometown in the Army!
Matthew W. McFarlane
Major General, U.S. Army
Commander, 4ID and Fort Carson