U.S. Army Alaska (USARAK) announced additional restrictions Sunday evening in response to the Coronavirus. The restrictions apply to all USARAK personnel, medical units, garrison units – including Fort Greely – and tenant units at Fort Wainwright and Fort Greely. Seven positive tests for the Coronavirus were reported at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson (JBER) over the weekend.
A total of 17 new cases were reported in Alaska over the weekend, bringing the total number of cases in Alaska to 32. The new cases were reported in Anchorage (Including JBER), Fairbanks, Juneau, Ketchikan, Mat-Su Borough, Sterling, and Soldotna.
In a pandemic, health officials say the number of positive cases is usually lower in the very early stages of the pandemic. As more people become aware of the seriousness of the disease caused by the virus and the symptoms of the disease, more people become tested prior to becoming seriously ill and the number of positive cases increases quickly.
Approximately 1,000 tests are now being performed in Alaska daily. Up from 100 a week ago.
USARAK has ordered commanders to identify mission essential personnel depending on mission requirements.
A press release from USARK says, “All non-mission essential personnel eligible to telework are encouraged to do so and all personnel are required to adhere to Mission Essential travel guidelines that their local communities and installations are directing. Personnel not required to report to normal workplace must maintain military standards and be available to report in when their Chain of Command requires. Commanders will communicate personnel requirements through the chain of command.”
USARK says, “Mission essential travel means remaining at home except to leave for work in critical jobs as prescribed by unit chains of command; to buy groceries or other important goods; to receive or provide health care; to drop off or pick up children from care; and to get fresh air while observing 6-foot social distancing between non-family members.”
The dining facility at Fort Greely remains open as normal for takeout and eat in dining except that self service facilities have been converted to so that guests are served by employees. On March 18, the State of Alaska ordered all restaurants and bars to close except for takeout service.
When asked why the Fort Greely Garrison was continuing to operate a dining facility that is open to nonemployees, the garrison issued the following response. “The Fort Greely Dining Facility places the health and safety of its patrons at the highest regard. We have implemented numerous measures to protect our workforce and community such as taking away the self-service salad bar and providing paper products in use of dine-in utensils. We have not received higher headquarters directives to mandate any other measures, and future decisions will balance the health protection of the community with maintaining the installation’s critical services and mission capability.”
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services said upon inquiry that they would be looking into the issue.