100 people in isolation as third case of coronavirus diagnosed in Stuttgart military community
By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 16, 2020
STUTTGART, Germany — A third person connected to the military community in Stuttgart has tested positive for the coronavirus, and about 100 people are in self-isolation awaiting virus test results, Stuttgart’s garrison commander said.
“I expect those numbers to go up,” Col. Jason Condrey said Sunday on Facebook, referring to infections.
Stuttgart, which is home to U.S. European Command, Africa Command, and various special operations units, has a U.S. military community of 28,000 people.
Any member of the military community who feels ill should not come into the office, Condrey said.
A drive-thru screening site has been set up next to the health clinic at Patch Barracks for members of the military community who suspect they may have been exposed to the coronavirus.
“Trace teams” are working to track down anyone who was connected to those who have tested positive, including a EUCOM officer, a military contractor and a person who is no longer in the area, officials said.
The EUCOM officer and contractor both tested positive last week. Officials did not say when the latest positive test result was received, if the person was a service member or civilian and where that person is now.
Military police in Stuttgart are at the entry gates to facilities in Stuttgart, asking health-related questions and whether people arriving at the base have been in contact with anyone infected with the coronavirus.
A rise in the number of coronavirus diagnoses and deaths in Germany has rapidly changed how the U.S. military does business in the country.
Twelve people in Germany have died and 4,838 have contracted the virus as of Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute said on its website, days after the World Health Organization said Europe was the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.
At EUCOM headquarters, some members of staff have started working from home to minimize the risk of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
“USEUCOM is maximizing our employees’ use of telework,” said Lt. Cmdr. Joe Hontz, a EUCOM spokesman.
EUCOM declined to specify what percentage of its staff is working remotely.
“Regarding personnel who work with classified material, we have arrangements for these individuals to accomplish their individual assigned tasks without degradation to our readiness or posture,” Hontz said. “Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, the command remains focused on executing our mission.”
At U.S. Africa Command headquarters, the situation is similar.
“Select AFRICOM personnel are currently authorized to telework, but we continue to meet our core mission objectives and support our allies and partners,” Maj. Karl Wiest said in a statement. “The command is continuously monitoring the situation, and we will evolve our posture as needed.”