Tighter safety restrictions return to NTC Fort Irwin amid COVID-19

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FORT IRWIN, Calif. — An increase in cases, along with the National Training Center returning to rotational training has resulted in re-instituting the curfew, limiting travel to the local area and for only essential services/activities, and restricting visitors in homes—measures to protect the community and ensure units can continue to the mission.

On July 31, NTC’s Commanding General, Brig. Gen. David Lesperance modified the Stay at Home General Order with new masking requirements within government buildings and vehicles. It also included voluntary self quarantines for non family members who have traveled outside of the local area and permitting a family or up to four guest visitors in a home on post.

This came after an update on July 9 saying, “This modification was made based on conditions and is necessary to protect our community and ensure that we can maintain readiness,” Lesperance stated in a Lead 6 Sends message to all. From April 1 to July 31, the COVID-19 threat in San Bernardino County went from 125 cases and four deaths, to 32,000 cases and 400 deaths.

“Throughout the past several months, my goal was to proceed cautiously, take prudent, conditions-based steps to re-open and reduce safeguards. This approach assured progress, maintained community safety and limited the possibility of having to slow our forward movement and re-implement precautionary measures. Unfortunately, conditions are such that I must dial back some of the progress that we’ve made.”

During the week/end of the Fourth of July, Lesperance relaxed some of the safeguards to provide everyone an opportunity to travel off post. At the time, he said he thought conditions would warrant that standard remaining in place but conditions changed.

“From day one, I’ve said that my number one priority is the health and safety of this community. I’ve also said and maintain that we must balance health and safety with training and readiness to ensure that our mission continues. These latest precautionary measures do just that,” Lesperance said.

“What’s become clear is that it’s our continued vigilance and adherence to our policies and CDC guidelines that have kept our cases low and our community safe. Unfortunately, we cannot account for what’s going on around us. Non-adherence to state and local safeguards and mandates in surrounding communities puts everyone at risk,” he said.

Lesperance said additional measures are required and he is relying on everyone to remain patient and vigilant to reduce the risk and continue the mission.

Following the general’s modified Stay at Home order on July 9, California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered several businesses and sectors to shut down again on, July 13.

All counties were forced to close all indoor operations at wineries, tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos, museums and cardrooms.

Other closures and modifications included both indoor and outdoor bars and restaurants are only allowed outdoor dining and takeout.

At the time of his announcement, 31 counties representing 80% of the state’s population, were on the state’s watch list and even more businesses were required to close their doors, including  gyms, hair salons, barbershops, other personal care services, indoor malls, offices in non-critical sectors, and places of worship.

Although gyms on post also shut back down on July 10, followed by barber shops and salons on July 15, and the chapel beginning July 19, on July 16 the MWR extended the Splash Park hours by four hours, opening at 8a.m. and closing at 8p.m. every day (Monday-Sunday). Reservations are still required by calling 760-217-7665.

U.S. Army North, already overseeing DoD COVID-19 operations in Texas, have deployed military medical personnel to California as the global fight against the novel coronavirus continues.

“We’re working with FEMA across the entire country to determine what other military capabilities may be needed to assist in this fight,” Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson, Army North commander, said Tuesday, during an AUSA “Thought Leaders” webinar series.

About 580 military medical personnel have been assigned to help with COVID-10 operations in Texas, and another 160 personnel will soon head to California.

California has seen more than 490,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 9,000 deaths from the virus so far.

“These steps are absolutely necessary based on conditions,” Lesperance said.

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