After the first case of coronavirus disease confirmed in Eagle Pass, and after issuing traveling guidelines for base’s personnel, Laughlin Air Force Base announced new preventative measures aimed at minimizing exposure to COVID-19.
On Sunday, Laughlin Air Force Base 47th Flying Training Wing Commander Col. Lee Gentile posted a video on Laughlin’s social media, announcing more restrictive measures including closing parks and outdoor facilities, in order to reduce the possibilities of exposure to the respiratory disease.
“On Friday, the president of the United States and the president of Mexico signed an agreement closing the southern border to non-essential travel, those directives, coupled with the secretary of defense’s guidance to quarantine anybody traveling back to the United States will also have an impact on civil servants and contractors,” Gentile said.
“I ask you, please work with your chain of command and your supervisor, to determine those impacts and ways that we can mitigate them in the coming days.”
On Saturday, Eagle Pass officials announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Maverick County.
In his social media message, 47th Flying Training Wing Commander Col. Lee Gentile said Laughlin is working to get those details and to release them as quickly as possible.
“Eagle Pass is considered part of our local area, with that, I have ordered the implementation of health protection condition Bravo Plus,” Gentile said.
Previously, Laughlin had issued regional traveling guidelines to include an area between Uvalde, Comstock and Eagle Pass.
“I am not restricting you from going to Eagle Pass if you need critical supplies, however, I encourage you to avoid Eagle Pass if possible, because I want you to limit your exposure to a known area with COVID-19,” he said.
On Monday, Laughlin’s Public Affairs further explained the base’s policy on traveling.
“Our current travel restriction policy has not changed. We understand that members may need to travel to Eagle Pass for additional personal supplies; however, our leaders have strongly encouraged members not to travel to this area due to the increased risk of being exposed,” Public Affairs Capt. Mahalia Frost said.
Gentile announced changes on the base taking effect within the next hours, including delays at the gate, due to those going in being asked a series of health-related questions.
“Furthermore, it (the health emergency) will be sequestering critical capability at the base, including defenders, firefighters, health care workers and child care workers. We are making sure there are no impacts to our EMS or firefighter capability and capacity. I assure you we are going to protect you,” he said.
In health care, Gentile announce a series of changes reducing services on non-acute medical conditions, “please be patient with us.”
He also announced changes to the restaurant capabilities and the closure of all outdoor congregation areas, including parks, dog parks, playgrounds, the outdoor gym and the climbing wall.
“We must ensure that we reduce the possibility of community transmission of this virus, we got to close any place where we can have multiple people congregating,” he said.
Gentile advised base personnel to continue to practice social distancing, to also go outside, go for a walk, a run, to jog and exercise, but to limit the number of people you are exposed to in order to limit the virus capability to spread.