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 Fort Carson entered its fourth week of an enduring international pandemic, the post’s leadership hosted a virtual town hall April 8, 2020, to update community members on a number of topics related to the response to COVID-19.
Maj. Gen. Matthew W. McFarlane, commanding general, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, began the event by updating viewers on Fort Carson’s latest developments.
“Our current COVID-19 projection models are trending similar to the State of Colorado,” he said.
“Although we’ve experienced a rise in new cases in the past week, we believe our strict mitigation measures are starting to show initial promise in flattening the curve. However, this does not mean that new cases will not occur. In fact, they most certainly will and perhaps at an increased rate over the next two weeks.”
McFarlane advised community members that Fort Carson cannot afford a complacency spike, where people become less disciplined in following preventive measures. “Complacency could result in a reversal of the efforts we have taken to date, and a spike in new cases,” he said. “We must continue to enforce social distancing standards and expand them where it makes sense in order to consolidate our gains and further flatten the curve of new cases.”
If the curve does not flatten, he explained, and the post endures a spike in new cases, Fort Carson leaders are prepared to increase measures to better protect the force and the community on post as well as implement additional security measures. “This may include additional restrictions to post access or a reduction of services available,” McFarlane said. “And, if we do this, I ask for your patience and understanding until we can relax those measures.”
On April 5, 2020, Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark Esper, issued guidance to the DOD workforce on the use of cloth face coverings to prevent the spread of the virus. Starting Saturday, Fort Carson leaders required community members to use face coverings when visiting the commissary and the Exchange and required employees of these organizations to do the same.
As community members prepared for Easter weekend, McFarlane indicated that all religious services on post could be accessed via social media and that the Mountain Post Living website also provides links and resources on topics such as: managing stress, coping with disasters or traumatic events and talking to children about COVID-19.
While addressing questions from viewers, the commanding general mentioned procedures for those scheduled to change duty stations (PCS) and spoke about the Exchange’s newly initiated curbside pick up service. He also responded to questions about the DOD’s stop-movement order for domestic travel and how that may affect Soldiers.
This week, Esper held a press conference and addressed extending the stop-movement order. “We will modify and extend the stop-movement order,” Esper said from the Pentagon on April 14, 2020. “We are working on exemptions and exceptions, but we are starting to finalize that.” Esper said an announcement would be made soon on the date for the extended stop-movement order. Soldiers who are gearing up for deployment were also assured that legal services will be coordinated through unit legal sections as part of the Soldier readiness processing that deploying units go through. Responding to the Army secretary’s face-covering order, Command Sgt. Maj. T.J. Holland, senior enlisted leader, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson, provided guidance to Soldiers on why coverings were required and the types of coverings that are acceptable for Soldiers to wear. He also briefed Soldiers and leaders about the best ways to conduct promotion boards.
Following Holland, Col. Eric S. Edwards, commander, Evans Army Community Hospital, updated community members on the latest EACH happenings. “Due to the overwhelming response to the EACH curbside pharmacy service, starting April 15, 2020, pharmacy services will be available exclusively at curbside,” he said.
EACH is also extending hours to better serve you. Pharmacy service will be open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. In order to increase curbside services, Saturday hours and walk up prescriptions will no longer be available.”
Community members are urged to call 526-2273 to schedule a pick up time for their prescriptions, including refills, new or renewed prescriptions and electronic prescriptions that providers have sent. Hard copy prescriptions are available for drop off and next-day pickup. “We’ve also raised our intensive care unit (ICU) bed capability, allowing growth in critical care capabilities and critical care training for our medical staff,” Edwards said. “This is an enduring benefit for our medical care professionals.”
To date, EACH’s Centralized Screening and Testing Center has screened over 1,800 beneficiaries and tested over 1,100. EACH’s COVID-19 patient advice line has now answered over 2,800 patient calls since opening two weeks ago. And, its pharmacy team has refilled over 11,000 prescriptions since curbside pick-up began March 30, 2020. The COVID-19 hotline, staffed by in-house nursing personnel, has answered more than 2,000 calls.
McFarlane capped the update by informing viewers that Fort Carson will continue to provide virtual town hall COVID-19 updates each Wednesday at 6 p.m.
“We hope to make these (town hall updates) as useful to you as we can,” he said. “If there are things or topics you want us to specifically address, please reach out to us. We always try to refine what we are presenting to ensure we are addressing the gaps that may be out there in terms of communication across our community. Together we can fight and win this battle against the pandemic, and that will take all of us working together.”