Editor’s note: A third case of COVID-19 was confirmed Friday. The Madison County resident works for Army Contracting Command-Redstone. The employee’s last day at work was March 17.
Redstone Arsenal will not close in response to the coronavirus pandemic so that essential operations for our nation’s security and defense will not be interrupted, Lt. Gen. Edward Daly, senior commander of Redstone Arsenal, said March 18.
Daly participated with other local leaders in a joint news conference at Huntsville City Hall updating local efforts related to the COVID-19 crisis.
“On behalf of all of the Redstone leaders, I’ll give you a quick update on all of the actions we’re taking, the current status and the way ahead related to planning,” he said. “First and foremost, the health, safety and security of the Redstone workforce and the Tennessee Valley population is a top priority.”
Daly confirmed two people who work on Redstone Arsenal had tested positive for COVID-19. In addition, 22 people were awaiting test results. Another 90 people have not been tested but are being monitored as a precaution because they recently returned from foreign travel or have been in contact with someone who has been confirmed as having the coronavirus.
One employee works at Marshall Space Flight Center. Daly said a contact trace was developed for everyone the employee was in contact with and each of those people have been asked to self-quarantine.
A second case involves a pharmacy tech at Fox Army Health Center. Everyone who came into contact with the tech to get a prescription has been notified and also asked to self-quarantine. If anyone exhibits symptoms of the coronavirus, they’ve been instructed to come to the center for testing.
Both people are recovering, Daly said.
Fox Army Health Center remains open.
Daly said Redstone leaders are working in close collaboration with city, county, state and national officials in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, he said Redstone leaders are also working closely with the Centers for Disease Control, Department of Justice, Department of Defense, NASA and Department of the Army leadership.
“I will tell you emphatically that we are in complete compliance with their guidelines and directives,” Daly said. “Our primary focus is on preventing the spread of the virus while simultaneously carrying out our critical mission sets that are ongoing at Redstone Arsenal.”
Many people have asked why Redstone Arsenal hasn’t closed down.
“We just can’t do that,” Daly said. “Our critical missions – intelligence, homeland defense, ballistic missile defense, logistics support to Soldiers and their families worldwide, to include those Soldiers currently in harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan – they are all critically important and we can’t abdicate our responsibility.”
Also of great importance, he said, are the ongoing efforts at some of the commands on Redstone related to combating coronavirus in support of Soldiers and their families in Italy, Germany, Korea and across the U.S.
“The bottom line is to close Redstone Arsenal would not only be unnecessary at this point, but my current opinion is that it would be irresponsible given our mission set,” Daly said. “At Redstone, we have and will continue to take appropriate and measured safeguarding actions to protect the workforce.”
He said the myriad of decisions made by Redstone leaders in recent weeks are in line with local, state and national level decision-making.
“I can assure you emphatically they are calculated, deliberate and measured,” Daly said.
He said the Arsenal is maximizing workforce flexibility to include telework, leave and work schedules. That doesn’t mean it’s the same for each of the 71 tenant organizations.
For example, Missile Defense Agency may be maximizing telework, whereas “there are some organizations within Army Materiel Command, as I mentioned based on what they’re doing to support and combat coronavirus and what they’re doing in support of the warfighter in Afghanistan and Iraq, there may be a difference there. Those individuals at AMC probably cannot afford to telework consistently.”
In addition, he said all government-funded travel for Soldiers and Department of Defense civilians and families has been canceled.
There is a 14-day quarantine in place for government personnel returning from international travel and those exposed to the virus.
Non-mission critical services on the Arsenal, like bowling and golf, have been closed.
Numerous social events have also been canceled to help enforce social distancing.
What will remain open includes the Exchange and Commissary to support the 350 families who live on Redstone, and to support active and retired military who rely on the facilities and services.
Child Development Centers also remain open to support the workforce who cannot telework.
Fox Army Health Center is conducting screening and testing for COVID-19 and remaining synchronized with Huntsville Hospital and Crestwood Medical Center.
“These are services we must provide,” Daly said, adding that Arsenal leaders are conducting regular updates and assessing actions and measures based on the emergency action plan that has been put in place.
“I can tell you that our senior leaders are involved and personally making every decision with regard to the mitigating actions that we are undertaking,” he said. “They are absolutely, unequivocally and without a doubt committed to safeguarding our 45,000 person workforce … and the entire Tennessee Valley community.”
Daly had the following instructions for personnel:
• If you feel sick, do not come to work.
• If you are in a high-risk category, do not come to work. Contact your medical care provider. “I can assure you at echelon, starting with your first line supervisor, that they will support your actions,” Daly said.
• Keep up to date by utilizing the Redstone Arsenal website at https://home.army.mil/redstone/index.php/redstone-index-php and its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/teamredstone.
If there are any questions regarding Fox Army Health Center, call 955-8888.
“We feel very, very comfortable, we the senior leaders at Redstone Arsenal, that we are executing appropriately at this point and that we are lockstep with the local community and all the guidance and directions coming in at a national level,” Daly said. “We are prepared to execute any plans as we go forward and will continue to monitor and adjust accordingly.”