Fort Sill successful in keeping COVID-19 number low

Published: Jun. 11, 2020 at 8:12 PM CDT
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FORT SILL, Okla. (TNN) - Fort Sill has found success in keeping its number of positive COVID-19 cases on Post low. Fort Sill officials said it is through an algorithm of how they screen people, both basic trainees and soldiers and their families who are stationed on Fort Sill. It includes a series of questions and quarantining recent arrivals for two weeks, even if they have tested negative for COVID-19.

Before entering Reynolds Army Health Clinic, people are screened by health officials outside.

“They’ll get asked three basic questions: Have they been outside the Lawton area in the past 14 days, have they come into contact with anyone knowingly that has COVID-19, or has anyone from out of state come to visit them, or if they’re coughing, things of that nature," said Darrell Scott, Sgt. First Class, U.S. Army. "If anybody answers yes to those questions, they immediately get sent over here to the secondary screening.”

At the secondary screening they are asked more in depth questions, such as if they have experienced symptoms related to COVID-19. From there, they will be brought into the clinic to be seen, and if necessary, tested for coronavirus.

“We try to reduce exposure as much as possible,” said Capt. Hannah Alexander, commander, Task Force Phoenix.

Trainees are tested for coronavirus within 24 hours of their arrival to Fort Sill.

“They line up out here and then they’re put in alphabetical order. They come up to our stations behind us. They are given their label with their name. They verify their name, date of birth and their identity. They are given a test kit, then that test kit is taken to our medics and then they collect their COVID sample," said Capt. Alexander. "At that point, our medics collect those COVID samples and then they take them to Reynolds Army Health Clinic for testing.”

After starting some of their reception processing, the trainees go through a controlled monitoring phase.

“During that time, they’re held in platoon-size elements to reduce their amount of exposure and they remain in contact with only those personnel. So that way we can reduce the risk as much as possible for exposure," said Capt. Alexander. "After they clear through those two weeks, then they will begin training as normal, finish their reception processing, get those haircuts that they haven’t gotten yet and continue on through their processing in basic training.”

Fort Sill officials are using innovative ways to minimize the risk of spreading coronavirus.

“I actually created a method where when we test we only pull the mask down and cover their mouth and leave their nose exposed to test them so that way if they do cough, it minimizes our exposure," said Scott. "Having been one of the primary testers here on post that hasn’t gotten sick yet and have tested COVID positive patients, I’d say we’re doing a pretty good job and the masks do help quite a bit.”

Through proactive measures, Fort Sill has been successful limiting COVID-19 on post.

“The numbers have been very small," said CSM Dina Pang, U.S. Army Medical Department Activity, Fort Sill. "Even compared to Comanche County, it’s significantly lower.”

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