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Activities at Fort Bragg slowly begin to resume

By RACHAEL RILEY | The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. | Published: May 11, 2020

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — Having taken precautions to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, Fort Bragg is slowly resuming activities on post.

With the Department of Defense's military travel ban in effect through June 30, officials said that starting Friday, local leave policies will be evaluated so they are in conjunction with the first phase of the state's reopening plan.

Service members, who were previously not allowed to travel outside a 50-mile radius of Fort Bragg, can request a leave or pass to travel farther distances within the state, officials announced last week.

The passes must be approved by a lieutenant colonel level commander, and requests will be evaluated based on the virus risk at the leave destination.

"We know the conditions in North Carolina well and are very comfortable with the (state) leadership decisions and data supporting those decisions as well as our own analysis," Fort Bragg officials said.

The installation increased its manning status to "mission essential" last week, with childhood development centers and access control points adjusting to meet the increased demand.

"Senior leadership, in conjunction with our medical teams advising on this pandemic, remain in daily contact with the state of North Carolina in order to make informed decisions towards the day-to-day operations of Fort Bragg as we operate in a COVID environment," officials said.

The 82nd Airborne Division resumed limited airborne operations for the first time since March.

"It may have looked a little different with mitigation efforts in place, but it was good to see paratroopers getting back to the familiar business of 'getting out the door,'" Maj. Gen. James Mingus said in a message to paratroopers Friday.

Mingus said units will start to "ramp up" individual and squad training this week. Courses like jumpmaster and small unit ranger tactics will resume with smaller classes, physical distancing, handwashing, medical screening, increased sanitation standards and wearing personal protective equipment.

"As we continue to move toward normal operations, our priorities remain the same — protecting the force, preserving readiness and preventing further spread of the virus," Mingus said.

On Friday, officials announced that some Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation outdoor activities would resume for groups of 10 or fewer and those wearing face coverings.

The outdoor spaces reopening include Smith Lake and Outdoor Recreation areas, though all restrooms remain closed; all parks; Smith Lake hiking and biking trails; sports fields; and Cleland Inline Rink and Skate Board Park.

The urgent care clinic at Womack Army Medical Center also adjusted its hours last week to be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Officials said the clinic is only for walk-in visits and is treating patients who have COVID-19 symptoms.

Patients should use the All American Expressway entrance.

rriley@fayobserver.com

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