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COVID-19 ops: KMC’s questions answered as facilities reopen

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --

Team Ramstein hosted a virtual town hall April 27 in a continued effort to provide updates on coronavirus disease 2019 and the base’s phased approach to return elements of normalcy to the Kaiserslautern Military Community.

In order to address a few questions on the current situation and changes as a result of the amendments in restrictions as a result of the pandemic, Brig. Gen. Mark R. August, 86th Airlift Wing commander; Lt. Col. Tracy Bozung, 86th Aerospace Medicine Squadron commander; and Lt. Col Natasha Reed, 86th Force Support Squadron commander, convened another town hall.

In opening remarks, Bozung stated there has been a noticeable flattening of the curve, particularly in Germany. The wear of face coverings, restriction of movement, physical distancing and hand-washing are all key factors which have contributed to slowing the spread of COVID-19 infection.

Reed briefly discussed the team work associated with the re-opening of some facilities at Ramstein to include working with Host Nation and the Army to synchronize efforts to best serve the community in the safest way possible. Measures taken to ensure the safety of customers and employees include installation of cough shields, appointment-only office hours, cashless systems for goods and services, the continued wear of face coverings, and adhering to physical distancing protocols.

Below are summarized answers to some of the questions fielded during the session.

Can the LVIS gate or the East Gate be opened on the weekends?

At this time, the LVIS Gate will remain closed on the weekend. As more facilities open, future demand may shift. We will continue to monitor the data and make changes as necessary.

Will the golf course open soon? What will those operations look like?

The Pro Shop will remain closed for now. All operations will be out of a starter shack. The golf course is open to all Department of Defense card holders. However, club members will have priority for tee times. Please call for an appointment. To combat coronavirus disease 2019 and abide by physical distancing protocols, restrictions include: include only one occupant per golf cart, no pulling flags and no raking bunkers. For more information please go to the 86th FSS website (https://86fss.com) or Facebook page.

Can we expect a second wave of COVID-19 cases once we start interacting more?

There is potential to have a second wave. However, with continued self-monitoring, the affect can be mitigated substantially. Physical distancing and restriction of movement will help keep the second curve level and relatively low.

With the potential of a second wave of COVID-19, will we go back to the restrictions we've had over the past three weeks?

Absolutely; methods that have been proven to work thus far to flatten the curve will be put into place.

Why are Americans outside the KMC area and other military bases allowed to come to Ramstein to shop, potentially spreading the virus?

Ramstein, being the gateway to the world, supports a lot of personnel across the European and African theater. Individuals coming here are already in the theater, maintaining physical distancing protocols and using face coverings which mitigates the spread of COVID-19.

Are there any updates on when libraries will open?

Libraries are a high-traffic area and are not scheduled to reopen at this time. Virtual resources are available. Check out the Ramstein and Vogelweh Air Force Libraries Facebook page and the USAFELibraries.org webpage.

What are we doing to ensure reopening facilities are following the proper health measures?

Public Health will conduct a pre-opening inspection, similar to inspections normally performed when a facility was under construction and reopening. Due to the COVID-19 specific environment, additional questions have been added to the inspection.

Is there a plan to increase COVID testing of U.S. military members, and how does that impact us in the KMC?

Currently, only symptomatic patients are being tested, with few exceptions. If testing increases, a tiered approach will be used to ensure not to overwhelm capabilities.

As facilities start to reopen on base, will the clinic start to resume normal services too?

A phased approach will be taken to work toward normal operations at the clinic. A balanced approach is necessary to ensure mission priorities and requirements are met while you get safe and trusted care.

Will there be a mass waiver for members with school aged dependents to PCS, or is this something to be handled on a case-by-case basis?

Mass waivers are specifically prohibited for all general officers. It is mandatory to do waivers on a case-by-case basis. Continue to watch for the prioritization plan by the Air Force.

Are face coverings required while hiking or walking in public?

Face coverings are required if physical distancing protocols cannot be maintained. Keep your face coverings nearby. If you are in an area where you can't keep that six feet of personal space between you and someone else, utilize the covering. This falls in line with what Germany is doing.

With German schools opening, do we have any updates as to when our schools will reopen?

There is no definitive date at this time. The DoD Education Activity in Washington D.C. has inputs from senior leaders and will route their recommendation through the Office of the Secretary of Defense for approval. Information will be distributed as it becomes available.

Any updates on the Child Development Centers?

All child and youth programs are closed at this time. Health Protection Condition levels will continue to be monitored, as well as the actions of our host nation.

When are flu shots going to be available? Are they going to be available earlier this year?

Typically, flu vaccinations begin around October. There is no information indicating whether or not flu vaccinations will be available earlier than usual this year.

Are there talks of starting First Term Airman Courses and Airman Leadership School again?

Talks of ALS are still being discussed. We do have a virtual FTAC that will be online in May. If you are a first-term Airman, see your First Sergeant for more information.

The full virtual town hall video can be viewed on the Ramstein Facebook page. Visit the official Ramstein website at www.ramstein.af.mil and go to the COVID-19 tab located in the top-right side of the page for the most up-to-date information.