Also Thursday, Eglin leadership participating in the town hall announced that the installation’s 96th Force Support Squadron is gearing up to meet the needs of any dorm residents who might contract COVID-19.

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EGLIN AFB — Eglin Air Force Base is establishing a “COVID-19 reception team” in a bid to ensure that personnel coming onto, or leaving, the base are not carrying the serious respiratory illness being spread by the new coronavirus.


Establishment of the team, an initiative that began this week, is based on the fact that the installation is expecting to receive as many as 40 new airmen in the coming few months.


The airmen will be coming out of various technical schools, and as such are an exception to the recent domestic travel ban instituted by the Department of Defense as part of an effort to control the spread of COVID-19.


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Some exceptions to the DoD travel policy can be made, with advance approval, for mission-essential purposes, in hardship cases, and for humanitarian reasons.



The initiative to create the team was announced Thursday during a virtual town hall meeting on the installation’s Facebook page, led by Brig. Gen. Scott Cain, the base commander.


Also Thursday, Eglin leadership participating in the town hall announced that the installation’s 96th Force Support Squadron is gearing up to meet the needs of any dorm residents who might contract COVID-19.


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In the instance of a positive COVID-19 test, an Eglin dorm resident will be moved to a separate facility dedicated to housing COVID-19-positive personnel. At that facility, 96th Force Support Squadron personnel will do laundry and perform other services for airmen dealing with the disease.


It is not know how many Eglin airmen, if any, might have COVID-19.


On March 27, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper ordered all U.S. military installations to stop reporting coronavirus cases. The order, which Esper said is intended to assure military operational security, came just prior to Monday’s DoD announcement that COVID-19 had sickened more than 1,000 U.S. defense personnel around the globe.


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Prior to the DoD order, Eglin AFB officials reported last month that there were two separate COVID-19 cases involving the base. One case involved the spouse of an active-duty Eglin airman and a second case involved a 33rd Fighter Wing airman.


In other developments at Thursday’s town hall, Cain said Eglin personnel will abide by the terms of the statewide stay-at-home order from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis set to take effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday, installation commander Brig. Gen. Scott Cain said in a virtual town hall broadcast on the installation’s Facebook page Thursday afternoon.


But Cain also reminded base personnel that national defense is defined in the order as an essential enterprise.


Cain told installation personnel that the stay-at-home order “enhances what most of you’re are already doing” in connection with working to stop the spread of COVID-19.


Earlier this week, Eglin limited itself to “mission-essential” personnel, to include civilian contractors, and Cain took a moment Thursday to note that missions on the base are, in fact, continuing, as evidenced by the aircraft that continue to fly from the installation.


Cain noted the aircraft noise as “the sound of freedom that you still hear over Eglin Air Force Base. ... Just to be able to hear that sound is a great motivator to me.“