Barksdale declares public health emergency after identifying possible cases on base

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BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Barksdale Air Force Base leadership has confirmed there are possible cases of coronavirus under investigation on the military installation and have declared a public health emergency as a result.

“The COVID-19 situation in the local area remains dynamic,” Vice Commander Col. Scott Weyermuller said in a video released to base personnel and the public late Tuesday afternoon. “We have recently identified persons under investigation for COVID-19 on Barksdale Air Force Base, and we are taking active measures to limit exposure to our personnel, their families, and the local community.”

According to the statement, the installation commander has declared a Public Health Emergency on Barksdale AFB and has raised its Health Protection Condition level to Bravo+ “in response to increased persons under investigation for risk fo COVID-19 on Barksdale AFB and in conjunction with public health actions taken by the Governor of Louisiana and our local community partners.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, there was only one case of coronavirus confirmed by the Louisiana Department of Health in Bossier Parish. There are three reported in Caddo Parish.

RELATED: 60 new Louisiana COVID-19 cases confirmed Tuesday

“In accordance with this measure and the advice of public health personnel, Barksdale AFB is only open for Official Business,” the statement said. “Until further notice, only military members, civilian employees and other Department of Defense affiliated personnel (e.g., retirees, dependents, contractors) who are conducting official duties or business, or have appointments at a medical or mission support facility, will be allowed on the installation. Accessing the base for shopping and morale facilities such as the base exchange, commissary or fitness center is not considered official business. All DoD and non-DoD affiliated personnel currently living on base will maintain base access.”

Base personnel are being told to follow CDC guidelines and avoid large gatherings, limit close contact with others, and maximize social distancing and personal hygiene.

“This means, more than ever before, good personal hygiene and social distancing are critical to the protection of our airmen and our mission,” Weyermuller said. “Should you begin to experience cold or flu-like symptoms, it is vital that you stay home and contact public health and your supervision for guidance.”

The statement said base leadership is continually monitoring the situation and working closely with the Louisiana Department of Health and military medical officials to provide airmen and families with up-to-date information on appropriate measures to prevent the potential spread of the virus, as well as any impact to the mission.

The DoD and Barksdale AFB will continue to follow the guidance from the CDC for this outbreak and will continually assess the need for these access restrictions and adjust accordingly as the situation evolves.”

For the latest base specific information on COVID-19, visit the Barksdale AFB website.

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