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COVID-19 in our community

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- While the Air Force will continue reporting total coronavirus disease 2019 cases, installations including Ramstein Air Base, will no longer publish local case numbers on their COVID-19 website pages.

The decision to discontinue publishing cases at each individual unit came out of a Department of Defense concern for operational security regarding readiness.

According to a DoD press release published March 30, press secretary Alyssa Farah stated, "The DOD has issued department-wide guidance to ensure continued public reporting of cases of COVID-19 positive DOD personnel through the responsible military service.”

The DOD will compile each service’s information and offer a daily public update of the full number of cases from across all services.

Farah stated that the DOD is constantly assessing and adapting not only how they respond to combating the virus, but also how to share critical public health information with local communities.

For Ramstein, this means continued open dialogue with host nation public health counterparts.

“Fortunately, Ramstein still has relatively few positive cases of COVID-19. This is in large part due to expedited precautionary physical distancing measures put into place from both German authorities and 86th Airlift Wing leadership,” said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Tracy K. Bozung, 86th Aerospace Medicine Squadron commander and Installation Public Health Emergency Officer.

“Any new positive cases affiliated with Ramstein are reported to the German Public Health Department,” Bozung said.

The removal of localized data from Ramstein’s COVID-19 site caused some concern within the community, namely individuals on Ramstein’s Facebook page who felt they had no way of knowing if they had been exposed.

For those concerned about their well-being, Bozung reminds everyone that public health is on their side.

“When a patient receives a positive diagnosis, the Public Health team initiates a thorough contact tracing to determine who was potentially exposed during the incubation period or once symptoms developed. If Public Health does not call you directly, then you are not a close contact of that person.”

A large majority of our community can rest easy knowing that no news is good news.

“Even before a positive diagnosis is confirmed, tested individuals who live in the same household are immediately put on quarters or in quarantine as a precaution. Public Health is working with the commanders and first sergeants to help protect the force immediately while awaiting confirmation of the lab tests,” Bozung said.

Public Health continues to remind personnel that the best defense is proper and frequent hand-washing and adhering to physical distancing requirements.

Anyone who is concerned they may have COVID-19 is advised to stay home and call the COVID-19 Hotline weekdays 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and weekends 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at DSN: 480-9001, or commercial 06371-47-9001.

For those having significant trouble breathing, call 1-1-2 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.