Malmstrom AFB increases force-protection measures due to COVID spread

Malmstrom AFB increases force-protection measures due to COVID spread
Posted at 7:17 PM, Oct 08, 2020

Malmstrom Air Force Base is moving from Health Protection Condition (HPCON) Bravo to "HPCON Bravo Plus" effective today to combat the increased spread of COVID-19 in our state and local communities.

Malmstrom officials said in a news release that HPCON Bravo Plus indicates a moderate disease threat and a real risk of exposure to personnel due to a significant outbreak of disease in the area. HPCON Bravo plus also requires additional heightened measures to protect personnel.

“The main intent of HPCON Bravo plus is to reemphasize the importance of minimizing the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure we are properly implementing the public health recommendations,” said Colonel Anita Feugate Opperman, the commander of the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom. "We must continue to be vigilant about our health and safety as our mission is one that we cannot and will not allow to fail.”

Malmstrom AFB is implementing additional internal measures to reduce the spread of the virus. The changes that may affect the local community are as follows:

  • The Commissary, Exchange, and Fitness Center will return to regular operating hours for all eligible patrons. The use of masks and social distancing is still required.
  • Airmen are still prohibited from off-base indoor dining, bars, and casinos, but may continue outdoor dining at establishments which have an outdoor dining option with tables at least six feet apart and may go into a restaurant to pick-up or carry-out food.
  • Indoor gatherings on base are limited to 30 people or fewer and outdoor gatherings to 100 people or fewer, keeping in mind that mask wear and social distancing are still a requirement at all times.
  • The Visitor’s Control Center (VCC) continues to be open by appointment only. Appointments can be made by calling 731-2853 between the hours of 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. When the VCC is closed, the gate guards will write a temporary pass that will need to be renewed the next day.

Malmstrom leadership is working closely with the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services to monitor the situation and provide airmen and families with up-to-date information on appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

Click here to visit the Malmstrom website.

There were 615 new cases and four new deaths added to the total on the Montana COVID-19 tracking site on Thursday morning. The data below is from the official Montana website on October 8:

  • TOTAL CASES & RECOVERIES: There have been 16,677 cumulative cases statewide, with 10,656 people recovered.
  • HOSPITALIZATIONS: There are 263 current hospitalizations, and a cumulative total of 851 hospitalizations.
  • DEATHS: The cumulative number of deaths in Montana is at 197.
  • ACTIVE CASES: The state reports there are currently 5,824 active COVID-19 cases in Montana.
  • TESTING: There were 5,489 completed tests, for a new cumulative state-wide total of 381,665.

Based on data from county public health departments, MTN News is reporting 205 total deaths as of Wednesday. Numbers reported by the state each day occasionally differ from those reported by county public health departments due to periodic lag times in reporting data to the state. We encourage people to check the official website and/or Facebook page of their respective county health department for any information that is not yet included in the state's daily updates.

The five following counties reported the most new cases: Missoula, 102; Yellowstone, 88; Gallatin, 53; Roosevelt, 36; Silver Bow, 21.

It's important to note that not every person who tests positive actually becomes ill or exhibits symptoms. Many do not; of those who do become sick, some experience mild symptoms and do not require hospitalization. Others, however, do require hospitalization, as noted in the daily update on the number of people hospitalized. However, every person who does test positive for COVID-19 has the potential to spread the virus to other people, including family members and friends, which is why public health officials continue to encourage everyone to wear a mask and maintain at least the recommended six feet of "social distance" when in public.

The significant increase in cases over the last several days has left several Montana hospitals strained, with 20 hospitals in the state currently caring for severe COVID patients. State officials said yesterday they will soon begin to publicly report information about COVID hospital capacity; the snapshot report will show bed capacity, beds occupied, ventilator availability, and ICU availability.