FORT IRWIN, Calif. — Leadership at the National Training Center and Fort Irwin took swift action to protect and inform the community, as the infectious disease known as the novel coronavirus or COVID-19, began to spread across the country over the last, few months.
The disease causes respiratory illness, like the flu, and comes with symptoms such as a cough, fever, and in more severe cases, difficulty breathing.
On Feb. 5, soldiers and the community were sent safety precaution information about the Jan. 30 global health emergency declared by the World Health Organization. At that time, the novel coronavirus had infected 17,000 and killed 362, mostly in China. As of April 1, the virus has infected more than 800,000 and over 40,000 have died worldwide. The Pentagon reports there are more than 250 active-duty Army soldiers who have tested positive.
Coronaviruses were first identified in the 1960s. Chinese officials and German doctors suggest that some patients may spread the virus during its incubation period, which may last up to 14 days before symptoms emerge.
NTC/Fort Irwin follows Centers for Disease Control guidance. Safety measures have been displayed across the installation, encouraging basic hygiene, including washing hands aggressively for at least 20 seconds, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze (releasing into your elbow), avoiding touching your face, frequently disinfecting surfaces, and avoiding close contact of one to six feet with people who are not well.
Coronavirus disease spreads primarily through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It also spreads when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches an open area on their face.
There is no specific medicine to prevent or treat the disease. Medical professionals on post and across the country treat a patient’s symptoms first.
The WHO’s determination of “global public-health emergency” has been around since 2005 and been used only five times before. On March 25, NTC/Fort Irwin increased its Health Protection Condition level to Charlie, as the Army raised all installation HPCON levels. The move helps maintain operational readiness around the world and protects to force, ensuring the ability to quickly deploy contingency response forces across the globe.
Do’s and Don’ts:
• Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub
• Cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue or flexed elbow when you cough or sneeze
• Avoid close contact (1 meter or 3 feet) with people who are unwell
• Stay home and self-isolate from others in the household if you feel unwell
• Touch your eyes, nose, or mouth if your hands are not clean
• Congregate in groups of more than 10