Fort Bragg balances COVID-19 precautions with maintaining soldier readiness

Cumberland County News

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WNCN) — Fort Bragg is facing a unique challenge right now as COVID-19 spreads across the United States.

CBS 17 is taking a look at how the military is handling mission readiness, along with the urgent need to stop the virus from spreading.

RELATED: Dental medical professional among 2 new COVID-19 cases at Fort Bragg

“We are going into areas that no one has gone in before, but the good thing is we are all going in on this together,” said Fort Bragg Public Affairs Officer Tom McCollum.

On any given day 120,000 people are on post, McCollum says.

“We have a unique mission that is not replicated anywhere in the United States, at the same time we have to balance that with protecting our community.”

Fort Bragg officials hosted a coronavirus virtual town hall on Facebook this week that currently has more than 74,000 views and hundreds of questions from people commenting.

“A lot of people want more restrictions put in place, a lot of people don’t understand why the restrictions are being put in place,” McCollum said. “We hear their concerns and we understand their concerns, so we are trying to address them.”

Restrictions include limiting the number of group gatherings, canceling events, closing schools and having employees work from home whenever possible.

Soldiers just returning from overseas are put in isolation for two weeks, either at home, in barracks, or in one of the quarantine compounds on post.

The 82nd Airborne Division sent this statement:

It’s been a huge effort across Fort Bragg. We’re doing everything we can to improve the quality of life for the soldiers who have to go into quarantine. It’s definitely not something we’re excited about, but the quarantine is something we have to do to protect the force and reduce the spread of the virus in the community. As these changes continue to evolve, the soldiers here still have to be prepared to respond anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice.

“We have to have that capability, and we will be able to maintain that capability and to do that we have to train and we have to keep units moving and we have to keep units together,” McCollum said. “We cannot allow soldiers to just go home and wait for the phone call, it will not work.”

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