By Scott Prater | Mountaineer staff
Editor’s note: This was updated as of Wednesday. For the most up-to-date information visit https://www.carson.army.mil/, and follow Facebook @USArmyFortCarson.
FORT CARSON, Colo. — As the Fort Carson community enters its fourth week of uncertainty surrounding the effects of a national pandemic, Army leaders continued to inform Soldiers, Families and civilians about decisions and steps taken in response.
Maj. Gen. Matthew W. McFarlane, commanding general, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, joined Col. Brian K. Wortinger, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson commander; Command Sgt. Major T.J. Holland, senior enlisted leader, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson; as well as Col. Eric S. Edwards, commander, Evans Army Community Hospital (EACH), in hosting two virtual town halls the last week of March 2020.
“We are reassessing and making changes where it makes sense,” McFarlane said. “We continue to receive feedback from these town halls as well as from the Army chain of command, Soldier and Family Readiness Group (SFRG) channels and from across social media.”
The Mountain Post leaders covered a wide and varied number of topics during both town halls, including the stand up of curbside pharmacy service at EACH, the reopening of Carson’s Cheyenne Shadows Golf Course, limits on purchases of alcohol, playground closures and the Army’s 60-day stop movement guidance.
The commanding general encouraged community members to educate themselves about the COVID-19 virus, explaining that learning details about how the virus spreads should help people understand the steps and responses leaders are taking to ensure the safety of the community.
Army leaders informed McFarlane that installations will no longer report their number of positive cases. Instead, installation leaders will send their statistics to the DOD, which will then report aggregate totals.
McFarlane reported March 26, 2020, as the number of COVID-19 positive cases around the state and the nation continue to rise.
“The good news is that two of our positive cases — a Colorado National Guard Soldier and civilian health care worker — have recovered and are doing well,” he said. “This is a tribute to both their own self-imposed measures as well as the rapid response of our medical community.”
Colorado is currently faring better than other parts of the country, where positive cases have escalated rapidly. In response, an advance party of Soldiers with the 627th Hospital Center deployed to Washington to help relieve the burden on local hospitals. McFarlane informed listeners that a group of 4th Sustainment Brigade Soldiers is traveling to multiple locations around the nation to assist with the U.S. Army North mission in response to COVID-19.
While discussing directives issued to help protect Soldiers and community members, Holland reminded listeners to continue to practice proper social distancing guidelines and to limit the size of gatherings.
“We don’t want to see people playing team sports or hosting large birthday parties,” he said. “Alternate activities that should be happening, however, are things like cycling, walking and hiking.”
Wortinger explained finding activities, which support social distancing guideline continues to be important for community members. That’s one reason Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation leaders decided to reopen Cheyenne Shadows Golf Course.
“The course will be open for nine-hole walking play only,” Wortinger said. “Additionally, the on-course portable restrooms will be closed. Players will be charged the course’s cheapest twilight rate and there will be no food service or club rentals.”
Wortinger also said the post’s stocked fishing ponds will be open for anglers who hold a valid Fort Carson fishing permit. Visit https://carson.armymwr.com/programs/hunting-and-fishing for more information on permits and hours.
While leaders continue to explore recreational alternatives on post, hospital directors continue to adapt operations to fit these unique times. Edwards announced the EACH pharmacy now offers curbside prescription service. Pharmacy visitors can still walk in to the pharmacy, but the curbside service was established for those who would like to fill their prescriptions from the safety of their vehicle.
“We filled over 900 prescriptions through our drive-up pharmacy (March 26, 2020),” he said.
After Wortinger answered questions about alcohol purchases on post, McFarlane capped the event by asking unit leaders to continue checking the welfare of their Soldiers and for community members to stay informed.
“Across the Mountain Post we are making good progress in response to COVID-19,” he said. “But we still need your help. Common-sense quarantine measures, social distancing, hand washing and staying at home unless absolutely necessary, remain our best ways to counteract the spread of this virus.”
For more information on postwide restrictions and guidance, visit https://www.carson.army.mil/.