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top 10 frequently asked questions

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A1: The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to the virus. COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. To avoid being exposed:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not readily available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Put at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and people who don’t live in your household.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Wear a mask when around others (children under 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing or is incapacitated should not wear a mask).
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.

For more information about how to protect yourself, see the CDC’s How to Protect Yourself & Others.

A2: For COVID-19, a close contact is anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes. An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours (or 2 days) before displaying any symptoms or testing positive for COVID-19.

A3:

  • ROM statuses are official orders that can only be authorized by the Installation Commander or PHEO under a Public Health Emergency in order to prevent the spread of the virus and protect the Mission. 
  • Isolation is a way of preventing the spread of illness from someone who is SICK with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and/or a positive COVID-19 test.
  • It lasts for a total of 10 days since the onset of symptoms AND at least 24 hours with improved symptoms and no fever.
  • Examples:
    1. Sick for 6 days = isolation for 10.
    2. Sick for 11 days = isolation for 12
  • Why 10 days minimum? Studies show that viral shedding, which makes a person most contagious, happens at the highest rate early in the infection (up to 48 hours before symptoms start) and are lowest after 9-10 days.

A4:

  • An individual who is NOT showing symptoms but has had known close contact with a COVID-19 case or high risk travel.
  • Quarantine is for a total of 14 days since the exposure:
    1. If you live in the same house and cannot separate, this is the last day of isolation for the sick individual.
    2. 14 days is the incubation period of COVID-19. You can start to show symptoms during this period.
    3. If you develop symptoms during quarantine, you should contact your PCM and supervisor. Your Status will change to ROM Isolation should you develop symptoms after a known or high risk exposure to COVID-19.

​A5:

  1. Isolation is for sick people with symptoms. Studies show that the spread of the virus is significantly lower at 10 days after symptom onset.
  2. Quarantine is for someone who may become symptomatic due to exposure to the virus. This can happen at any time during the viral incubation period, which is 14 days.

A6: People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

The influenza virus will present with most of these symptoms, which is why it is very difficult to tell the two apart without a test. Testing is critical during the upcoming influenza season to rule out COVID-19.

Influenza differs in that the loss of smell/taste along with shortness of breath are not always as notable as with COVID-19. Onset and duration also differ slightly.

For additional information, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/flu-vs-covid19.htm

A7:

  1. Testing is available at the MTF and multiple locations around the local area.
  2. Call the MTF appointment line for a telephone consult if you think you need to be tested.
  3. See the following resources for further information:​

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/coronavirus-self-checker.html

https://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/COVID-19-Testing.aspx

​A8:

  1. Wait at least 2 weeks before resuming full activity. If you experienced shortness of breath, high fevers, chest pressure during your illness, you should be seen and cleared by your PCM 2 weeks after symptoms have resolved before you go back to exercising.
  2. If you have any further questions, please call your primary care team for advice and evaluation.

A10:

  • A negative test on ASYMPTOMATIC individuals is still a concern given that the false negative rate of all testing is relatively high.
  • A negative test for SYMPTOMATIC individuals, is more reliable when using PCR testing.
  • A negative COVID19 (PCR) test in a sick individual is more clinically dependable in settings where the member has been evaluated by a medical provider and/or Public Health (MTF, Tricare affiliated Civilian providers, or Nebraska Public Health). Clinical evaluation and a negative test can better determine the risk of a false negative in this scenario.
  • Remember: if you get a positive or negative test from an outside testing facility, you still need to notify Public Health and your PCM.

Useful references:

https://faq.coronavirus.gov/protect-yourself/#who-is-considered-a-close-contact-of-someone-with-covid-19

https://www.unmc.edu/coronavirus/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/coronavirus-self-checker.html

Frequently Asked Questions

Medical Questions

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A12: Our dental clinic is following the ADA (American Dental Association) COVID-19 treatment guidelines. We are delaying routine dental cleanings, treatments such as fillings and crowns and focusing on Active Duty annual exams and treatment as well as dental pain. The dental front desk staff is reaching out to patients already scheduled for routine work to cancel their appointments and reschedule for a later date. Sick call appointments can still be made through the Central Appointment Line

A01: Yes, Offutt announced its first case of COVID-19 April 1. In accordance with DoD guidance, no further cases will be announced at the base level.

A02: We are taking proactive steps to encourage Team Offutt to follow CDC guidance to avoid contracting or spreading respiratory illnesses like the flu or COVID-19. There are contingency plans in place and we have been taking steps to educate and safeguard our military and civilian personnel, family members and base communities in preventing a widespread outbreak.  We will continue to work with our interagency and local partners to strengthen global detection and response to COVID-19.

We have a strong coalition of partners at Offutt and in surrounding communities, and we’ve been working together for weeks to slow the spread of COVID-19. It’s important that everyone continues to remain vigilant with social distancing and sanitization efforts.

A03: You should practice social distancing and wear a mask when in public. The goal is to limit the number of people you come into contact with. Some people with the virus may not display any symptoms. Even if you do not fall within the “significant risk” category, we strongly encourage:

  • More handwashing and less face touching;
  • Cough/sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, then quickly discard the tissue and wash your hands;
  • Stay home when you are sick;
  • Stay away from sick people;
  • Practice social distancing as much as possible;
  • Disinfect commonly touched surfaces

If you believe you have symptoms, you should contact the EBC or your medical provider in advance by phone. Please do not report directly to your unit, the medical clinic, finance, personnel or any other agency before being screened and cleared to do so.

A04: The short answer is yes. Handwashing can help prevent illness. Taking 20 seconds to lather up, scrub your hands, rinse and dry is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs. Hand hygiene is so important to preventing the spread of disease. If we can limit the spread of influenza and COVID-19, we can limit the number of people who end up in our hospitals and emergency rooms.

A05: If you or someone you think you know might have the virus, do not report to the clinic. If you are in self-isolation or have traveled to areas of concern, call the 55th Medical Group Public Health Flight. TRICARE beneficiaries should call the Nurse Advice Line at 1-800-874-2273. Always call 9-1-1 if you are experiencing an emergency.

Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Fever greater than 100.4⁰F
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

A lot of these symptoms are very similar to seasonal allergies and flu.

A06: We currently have tests for high risk patients and are working diligently to obtain more. We will be following current CDC guidelines for testing and are prioritizing patients with fever or signs of lower respiratory illness (cough or shortness of breath). Providers will consider such things as severity of the illness, age, and chronic medical conditions, along with travel history and potential exposure to someone diagnosed with COVID-19.

Social distancing is one of the most effective means of limiting and preventing the spread of COVID-19. There are about 6,000 hospitals in the United States and at any given time, 2/3s of the beds are full from patients involved in motor vehicle accidents, some who have had a heart attack and stroke, and other serious medical conditions. Social distancing will help lessen the spread of the virus so that our medical treatment facilities will have the capacity to care for those with the aforementioned health complications and severe cases of Coronavirus.

A07: We recommend that everyone stay away from crowded places. If your 65 years old or older and you’re immunocompromised, there is a greater risk that this disease can have a severe effect on your health.

If you’re under 65, we still recommend that you stay away from areas and events with large gatherings. The idea here is to prevent you from getting a mild form of the disease and spreading it to others, especially those in a high-risk category. We all have to do our part to keep ourselves safe and healthy, look out for the health and safety of others, and flatten the curve of the spread of Coronavirus.

A08: HPCONS were introduced in 2019 and are similar to Force Protection Conditions (FPCONs); FPCONs inform the populace about potential physical threats, while HPCONs inform about potential health threats. HPCON levels include:

 

  • HPCON “0” – Normal baseline; measures include standard precautions and prevention such as hand washing, hygiene, vaccinations, education, planning, etc.
  • HPCON A – Report of unusual health risk or disease; possible measures include communicating risk and symptoms, reviewing plans and preparation, and preparation to diagnose, isolate and report new cases
  • HPCON B – Outbreak or heightened exposure risk; possible measures include strict hygiene, self-isolation if exposed, vector control and careful cleaning of common-use items/areas.
  • HPCON C – High morbidity epidemic or contamination; possible measures include social distancing (limit meetings, socials and gatherings), and mass distribution of medical countermeasures if applicable.
  • HPCON D – High mortality epidemic or contamination; possible measures include restriction of movement (quarantine), evacuation and decontamination

As with FPCON levels, changes in HPCON levels are communicated through official command and control channels, with possible augmentation with public affairs channels. HPCON signs may be posted in key high traffic areas.

Specific information and actions will vary based on circumstances and will be communicated along with the overall HPCON level. Personnel should carefully follow all guidance and directives to ensure individual and community health and safety, as well as overall mission readiness.

A09: The 55th Wing Commander implemented HPCON Charlie on March 26, 2020.

The Secretary of the Air Force has directed that all Air Force installations implement Health Protection Condition (HPCON) Charlie. This is in keeping with similar actions taken by our sister services. This puts all military installations in the same posture as we collectively work to meet the Secretary of Defense’s three priorities in fighting COVID-19:

1. Protect our people and their families

2. Ensure our ability to conduct essential missions in defense of the nation

3. Support the all-government effort against Coronavirus

Additionally, the commander declared a Public Health Emergency March 27 to ensure that all available measures and authorities are available. This also keeps activities and efforts in harmony with the surrounding communities, which have taken similar actions in recent days. We continue to stay linked with the ongoing efforts of the Health Department.

A10: This is the way a self-isolation period works. The incubation period – the time you get the virus to the time you exhibit symptoms – is 2-14 days. If you’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive or if you return from a high-risk area such as a Level 2 or 3 travel country, you should stay home for 14 days to self-monitor. If you don’t display any symptoms after and you do not have an illness, that days, that means you are not infected and you are not going to spread it to other people. That is why it is important that we ask people to stay home and follow guidelines.

A11: Yes, the satellite pharmacy has consolidated operations with the Ehrling Bergquist Clinic and prescriptions will need to be picked up using one of the drive-through lanes in front of the clinic. This allows better use of medical personnel in response to COVID-19.

A13: Please consider delaying routine care or follow-up in the clinic if you feel this would be appropriate. This will allow us to save appointments for those needing more urgent care.

A14: If you have a medical emergency, please dial 911 on base or proceed to the nearest emergency room. If you feel you must be seen in the clinic within the next 24-72 hours, please call the Central Appointment Line. Alternatively, the Nurse Advice Line is also available to you 24/7.

A15: If you have mild cold or flu-like symptoms and feel comfortable providing self-care at home, please continue to do so.  If you need medical assistance, please call the Nurses Advice Line or the Care Line and we will have a nurse speak with you or create a t-con for you.  Our priority is to reach those patients who have reported symptoms.

If you have a routine appointment scheduled during your ROM status, we will not be able to see you in the clinic until your ROM is lifted; please reschedule your appointment via the Central Appointment Line or at TRICARE Online for after your ROM end date. We ask that you NOT come into the clinic if you are on ROM unless you have received verbal instructions from our staff to do so. Please notify our staff that you are in ROM status upon arrival to the clinic.

To prevent the spread of illness within your homes, please follow the CDC’s guidelines: “Interim Guidance for Preventing the Spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Homes and Residential Communities” https://www.cdc.gov/…/2019…/hcp/guidance-prevent-spread.html.

A16: There is a drive through testing site near 72nd and Dodge and the EBC is looking at implementing drive through testing. More information will be provided soonest.

A17: Talk to your leadership. This should have already occurred in some areas. Priority one is about taking care of our people.

A18: The EBC has been screening patients prior to entering the facility since early March and personnel entering Offutt AFB will be screened at the gate prior to entry.

Frequently Asked Questions

Base Operations & Services

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A01: Visitors are allowed to come onto the installation as long as they are sponsored by a DOD identification card holder. All visitors must be vetted for and issud a visitor pass by either the Pass and Registration Office, or STRATCOM Gate personnel when Pass and Registration is closed.

A02: Yes, there will be set times for certain groups to utilize those facilities. The information has been finalized and disseminated.

A03. No one will be turned away, but facemasks should be worn if you are unable to maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet due to your work environment.

A04: We are monitoring all of that. Those types of cases, like a breakout of a cluster of confirmed cases, will certainly be a decision point for us to determine what portion of the mission can shut down, or which group should be put into quarantine. As it stands right now, if anyone gets tested or believes they might be COVID-19 positive, protective measures are being taken.

A05: Yes, the BX and Commissary are still open. Retirees and non-mission essential personnel may still access those facilities. However, this is subject to change. Please check the Offutt website for updates.

A06: This is to be determined. We are all being informed as you are being informed. As the virus has migrated across the globe, some areas that had their first case December 2019 are still lock down status. With this type of projection, these restrictions will most likely still be required for April and May or even longer. Adhere to the guidelines in place, it will greatly help flatten the curve so that we do not out pace our medical capacity.

A07: You can purchase supplies (hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, etc) and services in support of COVID-19 up to the mirco-purchase threshold. Due to President Donald Trump declaring the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency, the micro-purchase threshold has been increased from $10,000 to $20,000.

A08: The DoD has paused all ceremonies until further notice. Promotions will still occur as scheduled.

A09: Members should check with their leadership to see if an alternate work schedule or alternate duty location is possible. The CDC 1 will remain open for children of mission essential personnel only with increased cleaning measures. Youth programs will also remain open for children of mission essential personnel.

A10: No, the Offutt Field House is closed until further notice.

A11: The CDC 2 has consolidated with the CDC 1 and the CDC 1 will remain open for children of mission essential personnel only with increased cleaning measures. Youth programs will also remain open for children of mission essential personnel.

A12: The CDC 2 has consolidated with the CDC 1 and the CDC 1 will remain open for children of mission essential personnel only with increased cleaning measures. Youth programs will also remain open for children of mission essential personnel. You should contact your leadership if you are facing a childcare hardship.

Health Protection Conditions

Health Protection Measure Graphic

Graphic 1 of CDC cloth face coverings instructions Graphic 2 of the CDC cloth face coverings instructions.  Page 3 of the CDC Cloth Face Coverings guidelines.

Frequently Asked Questions

Personnel Questions

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A12: We are still following the 60-day stop movement. There is no plan to re-assign those individuals that have current OCONUS assignments.

A15: No, there are no changes or the need for change to WAPS testing. Social distancing is and will be practiced in the WAPS center.

A01: If you have concerns with where a contractor has traveled, please contact the Contracting Officer Representative or the Contracting Officer and let them know your concerns. The Contracting Officer will contact the company’s management and determine the necessary steps that can be taken to protect the health and safety or our Airmen.

A02: Only mission-essential travel will be allowed for military and civilians, and that will be determined by your chain of command. All other TDYs will be canceled. If you have a question about an upcoming TDY, ask your chain of command if it is essential.

A03: If you are TDY or deployed you will be required to remain at that location until travel restrictions are lifted. This will put some people in a difficult situation, so please reach out to your chain of command if you are unable to return home.

A04: For military, guidance is very clear. Even if we are on leave status, we are to keep our leave within the local area. Each base defines “local area” differently. The Offutt AFB commander has defined it as within 75 miles of the installation. Residents who live outside of the radius will be allowed to travel to and from their home only.

Civilian leave can only be canceled based on mission necessity. However, there is no legal restriction that keeps our Air Force civilians or family members from traveling outside this 75-mile radius military members must adhere to. Civilians are highly encouraged to follow those guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

A05: According to guidance, travel for medical appointments outside of the 75-mile radius is authorized for military personnel, which includes taking a family member to an appointment. This does not require a higher-level approval, but inform your chain of command if you have to travel outside the local area for this reason.

A06: Other travel considerations will be made for reasons such as mission essential, humanitarian or hardship. These decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis by the first general officer or Senior Executive Service civilian in the chain of command.

A07: Military members will not be charged leave unless there are extenuating circumstances. There will be a special duty status code for these instances.

As of now, civilians that are directed to self-monitor by the installation commander will be placed on weather and safety (admin) leave. If you start to develop symptoms while being directed to self-monitor, you will have to switch to either sick leave or use other time off categories (e.g., previously earned compensatory time off, credit hours, time off award, or leave without pay).

If you choose to self-monitor, the situation is different. You will need to take annual leave or other paid time off categories if you choose to self-monitor. If you develop symptoms you may use sick leave. Contact your chain of command and/or the Civilian Personnel Office for more information.

A08: Permanent Change of Station for civilians have been put on hold. AFPC will only process new hires if they are within the local area.  This will be in effect until May 11 or until guidance is superseded or rescinded.

A09: Those who are deemed mission essential will be provided a legal document. This legal document and your government ID will be presented to any authorities questioning why you are out during SIP. The local government, police and fire chief in the surrounding cities will understand that you will have to come to OAFB but you will have to have that documentation.

A10: The per diem rate will not automatically change if you are TDY here. It is encouraged that you contact the SAFB DTS office or your home station’s DTS office.

A11: Food, gas and medical are deemed essential. If there is any question outside of those three things that are essential, contact you chain of command.

A13: All sorts of contingencies and plans are being discussed at various levels. For example, if a stop movement needs to take place and when that occur. All those type of actions are in currently being discussed.

A14: There are stipulations in the rules that have been put in place for travel. If there is a hardship situation or personal situation that is causing you some stress or strain, you need to talk to someone, your supervisor, First Sergeant, or the chain of command. There is a waiver authority for everything. Some of those waiver authorities go all the way up to the Secretary of the Air Force. If it’s that important, we can get that approval. Also, many of those authorities have been delegated down to the first general officer in the chain and to the installation commander. Do not suffer in silence!

A16: Contractors are an essential part of our mission supporting Team Offutt. The installation commander will decide which contracts he deems are mission essential and only those contractors that are mission essential will be authorized on the installation. Contracting Officers will notify the contractors who are mission essential and those that are not mission essential.

A17: Depending on the type of contract, whether the company replaces the individual or not is generally the company’s decision to make. The government does not own the employee or direct personal actions. Certainly, the government and company might have discussions that realize the company’s performance is at risk, which may achieve the intended result.  Bottom line, the government generally should not direct a contractor to replace an employee who is out on extended medical leave.

A18: Yes

A19: TDYs will be allowed for mission essential training only.

Graphic 1 of CDC cleaning guidance

Graphic 2 of CDC cleaning guidance

Stop the Spread of Germs

A graphic about how to stop the spread of germs

A graphic to remind rveryone to stay safe during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Social Media

Graphic with link to the Offutt AFB Facebook page

graphic with link to Col. Gavin Marks, 55th Wing commanders, Facebook page.

Graphic with link to Chief Master Sgt. Brian Thomas, 55th Wing command chiefs, Facebook page.

Graphic with link leading to Col. Alan Dayton, 55th Mission Support Group commanders, Facebook page.

Graphic with the 55th Force Support Squadrons logo with link to FSS Facebook page

Offutt AFB COVID-19 Videos

COVID-19 Testing Update

 

First 55th Wing deployment under COVID-19

 

RC-135U Combat Sent returns from deployment during COVID-19

 

Pediatric & OBGYN Questions


Thank You Team Offutt

COVID-19 - Proper use of Gloves


COVID-19 - Proper Face Mask Usage

 

Offutt AFB COVID-19 Briefing #3

 

Offutt AFB COVID-19 Briefing #2

 

Offutt AFB COVID-19 Briefing #1

Important Links

Helpful Information

Graphic to assist parents dealing with kids emotions

Graphic with ideas on what a person can do while in quarantine