Gen. Frank speaks about Coronavirus
Brigadier General Patrick D. Frank issued the following statement on Friday Mar. 13 in regards to the COVID-19 global pandemic:
JRTC and Fort Polk,
ATW! We greatly appreciate the Unit, Soldier, and Army Family teamwork as the Installation has instituted multiple directives that will assist us with managing our approach to mitigating the threat of COVID-19. JRTC and Fort Polk continue to highlight the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control.
This afternoon, Governor Edwards directed that public schools in Louisiana close from Monday, 16 March – through Monday, 13 April 2020. We fully understand this will create child care issues for our Fort Polk Families – our unit Commanders and CSMs will remain flexible in assisting Soldiers with this challenge. Ensuring that Families and units are able to determine child care solutions / alternate work schedules next week is our central focus.
JRTC and Fort Polk is in Health Protection Condition (HPCON) “Alpha” which is defined as “Limited: Health Alert” – this is one level above the baseline situation of HPCON-0 “Routine: Normal Operations.” Governor Edwards has declared a Public Health Emergency within Louisiana; the state currently has 33 x cases – all of which are outside of a 100-mile radius of Fort Polk. At this time, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on JRTC and Fort Polk. We released an Operations Order today that provided specific guidance on social distancing, Installation activities / events that will be cancelled or postponed, local leave / pass criteria, travel distance guidance – 100 miles from Fort Polk, entrance procedures at our Access Control Points, guidance for telework, and food safety guidelines.
Today, we conducted our Installation “table top exercise” designed to present various COVID-19 challenges to our Commanders, staffs, first responders, our local partners, and BJACH – situations presented ranged from placing a Soldier in Isolation, to Quarantine procedures – for both Single Soldiers in the barracks as well as Army Families living both on and off the installation. The #1 lesson learned in this exercise is that Soldiers, Army Families, and DA Civilians that are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should remain at home and contact the Tricare Nurse Advice Line at 800-874-2273 before presenting at the BJACH Emergency Room. The health professionals on the Nurse Advice Line will provide guidance for follow-on care and will only direct the individual to BJACH if the symptoms warrant an Emergency Room visit which will be closely coordinated with the Nurse Advice Line, the individual, and BJACH. Soldiers, Family Members, and DA Civilians will then inform the chain of command of their status in order to enable the unit to develop a support plan.
Tonight, the Department of Defense issued a memorandum halting all domestic travel, including Permanent Change of Station, and Temporary Duty (medical TDY remains authorized); this new guidance is effective Monday, 16 March through 11 May 2020. We are coordinating with Fort Polk Families that were in the process of PCS’ing and had already shipped household goods, but who will remain on the Installation until 11 May 2020 – we are committed to caring for these Families until they are able to move to their next duty station.
On Monday, 16 March, we will conduct a JRTC and Fort Polk Facebook Live Town Hall at 11:00 am on our preparedness and response to COVID-19. On Thursday the Installation will conduct a “full scale exercise” to further develop our response plan and mitigate risk to our Soldiers, Army Families, DA Civilians, and Contractors.
Through the teamwork displayed by our JRTC and Fort Polk units, we will leverage these restrictions to preserve force readiness, limit the continuing spread of the virus, and safeguard the health and welfare of Soldiers, Army Families, DA Civilians, Contractors, and the local Louisiana communities that surround the Installation.
Forging The Warrior Spirit!
All The Way!
CG, Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) and Fort Polk, LA
The COVID-19 fact sheet can be found on www.home.army.mil/polk.