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Military families at MacDill deal with travel cuts, child-care shortage, prescription limits

Col. Steve Snelson, who heads the host command at MacDill Air Force Base, is keeping military personnel and families updated on dealing with the coronavirus.

TAMPA BAY TIMES/TNS

By ILEANA NAJARRO | Tampa Bay Times | Published: March 17, 2020

Read more coronavirus coverage from Stars and Stripes.

TAMPA, Fla. (Tribune News Service) — Travel restrictions, supermarket hoarding and child-care demands are challenges facing every community as they move to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

At MacDill Air Force Base, the only difference is that many of those trying to cope are wearing uniforms.

The latest updates have been provided at a special website and through video from Col. Stephen Snelson, commander of host command the 6th Air Refueling Wing. Snelson planned an online town hall with further updates Tuesday afternoon.

Here are some highlights of how the Tampa installation is dealing the pandemic:

• Work restrictions. From Tuesday through March 29, the wing will transition to workplaces staffed by “mission esssential” personnel only.

• Childcare services: Fewer caregivers are available at the base’s Child Development Center, so service members were encouraged to keep children home if possible. Three centers on base typically offer full daycare services to about 562 children. “We may have to make some tough choices depending on how many providers that we have available,” Snelson said.

• Prescription limits: Refills and new prescriptions are temporarily unavailable at the off-base Sabal Park Clinic pharmacy. Customers will have to use the main clinic pharmacy on the base. Urgent prescriptions and controlled drugs will be processed there same day and other prescriptions will be available later for pick-up at the drive-thru.

• Commissary hoarding. Products have been flying off the shelves as soon as they’re restocked so Snelson asked for patience. “We’re going to keep filling up the shelves as best as we can," he said, "but I also ask people, please don’t panic buy. “Buy what you need, not just buy to buy.”

• Service cuts. The fitness center and other recreation centers have closed, according to the base’s new coronavirus website. In addition, the 6th Air Refueling Wing legal office will limit help with matters including power of attorney, notary and wills to members who are deploying.

• Travel restrictions. The Department of Defense has halted official travel by service members and civilians along with their families, including permanent change of station and temporary duty. The restrictions are set to run through May 11. Travel for medical treatment is still allowed and exceptions can be granted where travel is mission-essential, for humanitarian reasons or extreme hardship.

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