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Fort Polk provides COVID-19 procedure updates

Chris Schoonover
Leesville Daily Leader

Fort Polk leadership held its seventh Facebook Live Town Hall on Tuesday with updates to what is going on in and around the installation.

JRTC and Fort Polk Commander Brigadier General Patrick Frank made several announcements, including that personnel on post need to wear a face cloth if they can not adhere to social distancing standards.

"Across JRTC, what we have provided is guidance to use many of the pieces of clothing soldiers already have,” he said. “We have given guidance on the face masks soldiers can wear. Those are neck gaiters soldiers are provided by CIF. Many soldiers have bandanas that are camouflage pattern. Those will be authorized across JRTC and Fort Polk.”

Brig. Gen. Frank provided a full slide of what can be used as a mouth cover on the stream, and it can be found on the JRTC and Fort Polk Facebook page.

Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital Commander Colonel Jody Dugia announced a change to the COVID-19 drive-thru’s hours. From Monday through Friday, it will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. It will be closed on Sunday. 

She also announced that the two BioFire units will not be up-and-running as soon as estimated due to the testing kits being rerouted to areas of greater need. She is expecting the kits to be in around April 16.

Although BJACH does not have its own testing capability as of now, the turnaround time from the lab it uses is down to 72 hours instead of 7-10 days.

Brig. Gen. Frank expressed his gratitude to seven nurses from the 32nd Hospital Center, who left Fort Polk and flew to Washington state to aid the U.S. Army Field Hospital in Seattle.

“We call JRTC and Fort Polk the home of heroes, and these are definitely seven heroes from the 32nd Hospital Center,” he said. “Our nurses have moved up to the Pacific Northwest to help fellow Americans as they deal with COVID-19 cases across Seattle and the greater Northwest.”