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COVID-19 Town Hall Q&A

The 17th Training Wing emblem.

The 17th Training Wing emblem.

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --

Leadership for the 17th Training Wing hosted a virtual Town Hall on March 17 to address COVID-19 concerns affecting the Goodfellow community. There is nothing more important than the health and welfare of the Goodfellow and local community. Wing leadership is working with base subject matter experts and community partners of San Angelo and surrounding areas to synchronize efforts. Goodfellow is also diligently working to share information as fast as possible and actively seeking solutions to help mitigate national leadership’s decision impacts. We will continuously update this article to reflect new questions and concerns. Many questions were fielded and comments made on the following:

 

GENERAL QUESTIONS

What is defined by the local area?

According to the March 19, 2020, MEMORANDUM FOR ALL GOODFELLOW AFB MILITARY PERSONNEL, Leave Policy and Defined Local Area, the local area is defined as the 50-mile radius around Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, until further notice.

Will Goodfellow go on lockdown? How would this affect dependents and off-base personnel?

We are currently not in lockdown. This decision will be made at a higher level and only after careful consideration upon determining the situation warrants a lockdown. We will remain vigilant with implementing the necessary precautions to protect the health and safety of base personnel.

To whom does the local travel (50-mile radius) restriction apply?

Military and DoD employees highly encourage everybody to remain in the local area.

The policy only applies to military but civilians and families are encouraged to use the same caution we ask of our military personnel and to also follow any local and CDC guidance.

Is travel on base going to be restricted?

Travel on base has not been restricted at this time. We will continue to monitor the situation and make the determination if deemed necessary. We are committed to preserving our ability to support our national defense without putting the health and well-being of our students and permanent party at risk.

When will currently deployed members be able to return?

As a matter of precaution, members returning from overseas duties from affected regions are being monitored before leaving the region, during their travel back and upon arrival to their destination.

Senior leaders in each region evaluate the potential safety for travel and military operations by Airmen and Space professionals.

How long will people who traveled outside of the country be quarantined?

Service members who have returned from outside of continental U.S. locations will be placed under a 14-day restriction of movement.

How quickly are those suspected of being infected being tested?

In the event that an Air Force member or dependent tests positive for COVID-19, each medical facility has plans in place for treatment and will take appropriate measures to mitigate the spread of the virus. As a matter of precaution, members returning from overseas duties from affected regions are being monitored before leaving the region, during their travel back and upon arrival to their destination.

What is the plan for personnel who are high-risk?

Personnel who are at elevated risk of getting COVID-19 due to possible contact with an individual confirmed to have COVID-19, and/or individuals with symptoms and possible travel history to an area of elevated risk, are being screened for disease.

How would we be notified of exposure to COVID-19?

Coordinate positive test releases with command-level JA prior to sending to SAF/PA, in order to balance the individual’s right to privacy with public health interest.

Installation commanders use the Health Protection Condition (HPCON) framework to select an appropriate response to a public health emergency or incident of public health concern. The framework clarifies uncertainty associated with these situations and provides options based on the scope and severity of the situation.

We are providing installation personnel and their families with up-to-date information on appropriate measures to prevent potential spread of the virus, as well as any impact to local activities.

What are we doing to protect our permanent party service members?

We are taking proactive steps to encourage all DoD personnel to follow Force Health Protection and CDC guidance to avoid contracting or spreading respiratory illnesses like the flu or COVID-19. We have contingency plans in place and are taking steps to educate and safeguard our military and civilian personnel, family members and base communities in preventing a widespread outbreak.

Will cleaning supplies be made available base personnel?

You will need to get in touch with your resource advisor to determine funds available and to order any necessary supplies.

What guidance/directives have been passed down from AETC?

There is an abundant amount of information shared through our Goodfellow AFB website and Facebook page. We encourage individuals to check often for updates.

Will Use or Lose leave be rolled over?

It’s too early to determine how leave policies will be affected.

 

17TH TRAINING GROUP QUESTIONS

Are new students being tested for COVID-19 as they arrive?

Currently our trainees that come from Basic Military Training have been screened for the virus before they arrive, further testing will be done if someone has symptoms.

The safety and security of all of our recruits is of the utmost importance to us and we are taking steps to ensure their safety and well-being.  All members entering basic military training are required to process military entrance processing stations on the day of or the day before departing for basic military training. Members at MEPS have virus protocol procedures to observe and take temperatures of all individuals entering MEPS facilities. Air Force recruiters also complete a medical pre-screen on all applicants that covers all medical concerns, to include COVID-19. We continue to encourage all members and their families to follow CDC guidance for COVID-19.

Will graduating guard/reserve personnel be allowed to return home?

We are taking proactive steps to encourage all Department of Air Force personnel to follow Force Health Protection and CDC guidance to avoid contracting or spreading respiratory illnesses like the flu or COVID-19. We have contingency plans in place and are taking steps to educate and safeguard our military and civilian personnel, family members and base communities in preventing widespread outbreak.

Guard and Reserve service members need to work through their chain of command and home units. Quarantine and restrictions need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

What about families that already arrived in the local area to see their graduates? Will they be allowed to attend?

In order to preserve the health and well-being of our base personnel, we have limited graduation guests to essential personnel only. I know this affects families and visitors, but this decision was not made lightly and is in the best interest of students, staff and the community as we do our part to prevent the spread of the COVID-19. We appreciate your understanding and we look forward to hosting visitors in the near future.

How will classes be affected for current and future Guard and Reservists?

Goodfellow will continue to accept students from Basic Military Training and Guard and Reserve units. Please stay in contact with your chain of command for further guidance.

What about classes already in session? Will they continue until completed?

Current classes will continue. The mission of the 17th Training Wing must continue.

When will they begin allowing families to attend graduations?

We will reassess the climate as we move through this difficult time and make the determination using CDC and DoD guidance as well as analytics for the public health environment.

 

17TH MEDICAL GROUP QUESTIONS

Will the clinic resume normal functions?

All systems, including pharmacy refills are online.

Please be aware there is the potential for limited base access in the future. Additionally, social distancing may impact or limited the availability of clinic services which has led to an increase in telephone traffic. Please be prepared for longer than usual wait times.

Clinic Appointment Line (325) 654-3149

Nurse Advice Line (NAL) available 24/7, at 1-800-874-2273, option 1 or via https://www.mhsnurseadviceline.com/home

How do I get my prescriptions?

Unfortunately, retirees, their family members, and TRICARE Plus beneficiaries will not be able to access the 17 MDG Pharmacy beginning Monday, 30 March, until further notice. As we receive requests for refills after this date, either on our automated refill line or TRICARE Online, the 17 MDG Pharmacy will contact the patient and coordinate the prescription transfer to a local TRICARE-approved pharmacy chosen by the patient.

Do I have to pay for my prescriptions if they are off-base?

Fees for prescriptions are based upon which TRICARE plan you are enrolled in. For specific information about co-pays, please visit the TRICARE Copayments & Cost Shares site at https://www.tricare.mil/pharmacycosts or call (877) 363-1303. 

What services are defined as acute care?

Acute care is when a patient receives active but short-term treatment for an injury or episode of illness, an urgent medical condition, or during recovery from surgery that occurs in addition to the day-to-day health care provided by and overseen by a health care provider.

If I am a retiree, how do I seek medical care during this time?

Enrolled beneficiaries who are not Active Duty or Active Duty family members to include retirees, retiree family members and TRICARE Plus beneficiaries who need acute care can contact their Primary Care Manager through the 17th Medical Group Appointment Line or secure messaging. The 17 MDG provider teams will maximize the use of virtual appointments and telehealth to assess the needs of our patients. When a face-to-face visit is needed, we will direct the beneficiary to a TRICARE-approved urgent care/walk-in clinic in the community. 

For TRICARE beneficiaries, the Nurse Advice Line (800) 874-2273 is also available and is the best resource for information outside regular duty hours.

If I am Active Duty or an Active Duty dependent, how do I seek medical care during this time?   

If you are an Active Duty member or Active Duty family member enrolled with an on-base provider, please call the Appointment Line at (325) 654-3149 or utilize secure messaging to contact your PCM. If you are enrolled with an off-base provider, please call your PCM. For TRICARE beneficiaries, the Nurse Advice Line (800) 874-2273 is also available and is the best resource for information outside regular duty hours. If you are an Active Duty student, please note there will be no changes to student care or sick call. 

Will I have long wait times to see medical care?

Patients’ medical needs and requests are being addressed as quickly as possible; however, acute issues are the priority. Please note there could be longer than usual wait times for all services. 

Will I have co-pays to see a provider off-base? 

Fees are based upon which TRICARE plan you are currently enrolled in. For specific information about co-pays, please visit the TRICARE Copayments & Cost Shares site at https://www.tricare.mil/Costs/Compare or call (877) 363-1303.

How long will this last? 

How long COVID-19 will impact the services offered by the 17 MDG has not yet been determined. Questions regarding accessing medical services can be directed to our 17 MDG Appointment Line at 325-654-3149.

Is this change related to Section 703 of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) about restructuring Military Medical Treatment Facilities (MTFs)?

No, this change in medical services is not related to the 703 decision process. Limiting of medical services is being implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic to comply with social distancing rules and with Health Protection Conditions (HPCON) guidelines.