When the first case of COVID-19 was announced in Alabama, leadership at Redstone Arsenal had been planning for it for weeks.
“Redstone Arsenal has begun a crisis action team event where we conduct planning three times a week,” Garrison Commander Col. Kelsey Smith said. “That planning is specifically oriented to how to track, how to contain and how to prevent any potential viruses on the Arsenal.”
Part of the plan is to set the health protection condition for the Arsenal. Each HPCON carries with it certain measures designed to keep the local workforce safe and functioning.
For example, on Friday morning, when the installation was at HPCON Alpha, guards at the gate stopped physically handling employees’ Common Access Cards.
That means commuters are now being asked to approach the gate, show their badge with the photo, name and expiration date first and then flip the card to show guards the back.
Redstone’s leaders took additional steps Saturday, and changed the installation to HPCON Bravo on Sunday.
Those steps included:
• Recreational badge access and applications have been suspended.
• The Redstone Tax Assistance Center remains open to active duty personnel only.
• Religious services at Bicentennial Chapel are canceled until further notice.
• The following Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation activities are closed until further notice: Challenger Bingo, the Arts & Crafts Shop, Auto Shop, Outdoor Recreation, the Library, Pagano Gym and the Aquatics Center. Redstone Lanes Bowling Center activities are suspended; Strike Zone food service operations will continue as carry-out only.
• Redstone-hosted community events through the middle of April have been canceled.
• Functions at the Summit, Overlook and Cliffs
• The food truck corral (Marshall Space Flight Center) has been suspended.
• Drug testing operations are suspended.
• Food service facilities are open for take-out only, dining spaces are closed.
• Pagano Gym and the Col. Stephen K. Scott Fitness Center are closed.
• Flying Club activities are suspended.
• The Links golf course is closed.
• The Firehouse Pub is closed.
• The MWR Information, Tickets and Reservations Office, or ITR, is closed.
• Applications for visitor badges are suspended, unless approved by exception by the Garrison commander.
• Facility cafeterias will continue normal operations and stand-alone eateries will transition to carry-out only. It is recommended that employees dining in the cafeterias observe personal social distancing when ordering and dining in.
As these conditions change, leaders said, official messaging would be distributed via a variety of channels like Team Redstone’s social channels, employees’ direct supervisors and, of course, the Redstone Rocket.
“We’ve taken all the precautions at Fox Army Health Center to treat someone should they have COVID-19,” Col. Anthony Meador, commander of Fox Army Health Center, said.
Arsenal leadership has been focused on educating the workforce on the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and what steps workers should take if they feel they’ve come in contact with the virus.
Smith’s message to the workforce is simple.
“If you’re sick. Stay home,” he told a group of Garrison workers Friday afternoon.
According to Meador, some symptoms specific to COVID-19 are a dry cough, runny nose and sustained fever.
Just having those three symptoms isn’t enough to get tested, but it does start the monitoring process.
Once an employee has been identified as showing signs of COVID-19 they will be placed on administrative leave and asked to self-monitor at home for 14 days – the incubation time of the virus.
During self-monitoring, leadership is asking that workers isolate themselves from friends, family and pets to reduce the potential to infect others and they are being asked to stay in contact with their supervisors to let them know if symptoms are progressing, which in turn will let Redstone’s leadership know what steps need to be taken to protect the people still at work.
In the meantime, Smith and Meador continue to encourage the workforce to take precautions like frequently washing their hands, using hand sanitizer and sneezing and coughing into their elbows.
If you have specific questions concerning COVID-19, Redstone Arsenal workers are being told to contact their supervisors or email firstname.lastname@example.org.