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(Tribune News Service) — Wright-Patterson Air Force Base moved its health protection condition status to “Delta” from “Charlie” Friday, signifying growing concern with COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations.

“As of noon, January 7, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base has transitioned to health protection condition Delta; with a public health emergency in effect,” the base in a Facebook message Friday.

“Our goal is to provide a safe, healthy environment for our Airmen and their families,” said Col. Patrick Miller, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander. “Here at Wright-Patt, we are doing all the right things on base by our lack of any significant transmission hot spots.

“We have already been actively practicing many of those HPCON Delta measures such as declaration of a public health emergency, wearing facial coverings, maintaining physical distancing, and screening testing,” Miller also said. “I am asking teammates to maintain vigilant in practicing personal hygiene measures, physical distancing, wearing masks and minimizing in-person social gathering and time spent in crowded environments.”

Col. Christian Lyons, commander of the 88th Medical Group at the base, said in a Facebook town hall streaming event Wednesday afternoon that the Dayton region was then seeing a record of 529 COVID-positive inpatient cases, citing Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association data. And as of Dec. 29, 84% of COVID patients were not vaccinated, Lyons said.

Staffing strictures and COVID care needs may cause delays in routine medical appointments and elective surgery at Wright-Patterson Medical Center, Lyons also cautioned Wednesday. Some 60 members of the center’s staff are COVID-positive, he said then.

“We ask for your patience and your understanding for our staff and our mission set,” Lyons said.

About a thousand Ohio National Guard members will be deployed to Ohio hospitals next week to help hospitals overwhelmed with staffing shortages and an influx of COVID-19 patients.

(c)2022 Springfield News-Sun, Ohio

Visit Springfield News-Sun at www.springfieldnewssun.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

(U.S. Air Force)

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