Our coverage of the novel coronavirus’s impact in Southern Arizona continued with a look at how parts of the military are adapting. At the start of April, Fort Huachuca reported its first case of COVID-19 in someone who works at the post but lives off site. Well before then, Army leaders had begun planning for the pandemic. Lorraine Rivera discussed its approach with Fort Huachuca commander Maj. Gen. Laura Potter.
“Early on we started with some minimal measures, like increasing our numbers of teleworking, decreasing some of our on-base services. And then as conditions changed in the state and in the county, we increased all of those measures as well,” Potter said. “Right now, we’re probably at the highest level of mitigation measures we’ve been at since the COVID epidemic began.”
Precautions include requiring face masks in areas where it may be difficult to maintain six feet of distance between individuals, reducing the size of formations, limiting classroom instruction to groups of 16 or fewer and serving meals to-go in order to eliminate dining in the cafeteria. Servicemembers are also prohibited from traveling beyond 60 miles of the post without an exemption.
“What I try to remind everyone is that measure is really intended to get us through this period of time and keep us as safe as we can possibly be inside what we call this bubble here in Cochise County and on Fort Huachuca in particular,” Potter said.
Potter also discussed the need to continue missions at Fort Huachuca, including training for soldiers.
“Just this week we are shipping out our first group of graduates from [Advanced Individual Training] since the travel restrictions have been imposed. And in the near future, within probably the next week or so, we’ll receive an inbound shipment of AIT soldiers,” Potter said.