Homestead adjusts to COVID-19 realities

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Lionel Castellano
  • 482nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

COVID-19 had been a moving target as Homestead Air Reserve Base continues to combat the virus.

HARB has closely followed Department of Defense and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols while providing testing and vaccinations on base. This includes checking all personnel’s temperature as they arrive to work.

Yet, even with all these safeguards, HARB's personnel exposure rate still reflects the local areas, according to Craig Etherly, Chief of Bio Environmental Engineering Services and Public Health.

"Based on population, we mirrored what the community did," said Etherly. "We were not isolated or in a bubble, and everyone has to go home at the end of the day."

The base's protocols and guidelines did help reduce the rate of exposure and infection of its members while on base.

In late January, HARB started to provide vaccines to its military and base civilians and other service members around the area. Soon after, the base's personnel infection rate dropped dramatically.

As HARB's vaccination rates went up, the infection rates on base lowered.

But the situation is different now.

"We are mirroring the outside community," said Lt. Col. Joanna Dunk, Installation Vaccine coordinator. "There is a slowdown of personnel on base who want to get the vaccine, just like there are people out in the community."

The medical team continues to provide Point of Dispensing events to vaccinate as many members as possible. The last POD event happened this past weekend so that the Reservists would have access to get vaccinated.

Along with the 482nd Medical Squadron providing testing and vaccinations, HARB's medical team will help educate members on the facts around COVID-19, testing, and the vaccines.

"We are in this for the long haul," said Dunk. "We want to get as many people vaccinated, tested, and educated as possible."