Airman at Pacific Air Forces HQ is first to test positive for virus at Hawaii joint base
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FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii — An airman at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam tested positive for coronavirus Thursday, and is the first active-duty airman stationed at the installation to do so, according to the Air Force.
The airman, assigned to Pacific Air Forces headquarters, did not have a history of recent travel, the service said in a statement Friday.
The service member, who is now in isolation in off-base housing, “had contact with personnel throughout the headquarters building,” and base public health officials had begun contact tracing to notify anyone who might have encountered the airman, the statement said.
“The 15th Medical Group Public Health office is working with appropriate state and military health officials,” Col. Halsey Burks, commander of the joint base’s 15th Wing, said in the statement.
The Army announced March 21 that a 25th Infantry Division soldier stationed at Schofield Barracks had contracted the virus, making him the first U.S. service member to test positive in Hawaii.
As of Sunday, Hawaii had 371 coronavirus cases of COVID-19. Four people have died in the state.
“In coordination with the Joint Base, we continue to execute deliberate precautions to ensure we mitigate COVID-19 transmission while preserving the force and mission capability,” Burks said.
The public notice of the airman’s positive status is a departure from the U.S. Defense Department’s order late last month that installations worldwide stop announcing new coronavirus cases among their personnel.
Friday’s announcement of illness among Air Force personnel at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, however, will apparently be the last.
“In the future and in order to protect operational security as we preserve the nation’s combat readiness, the Air Force and the other military services will only provide total numbers of service members with COVID-19 at the service level,” the statement said.
Marine Corps Base Hawaii said in an online posting last week that it would “strike a balance” between operational security and transparency by posting notices on Facebook when someone on the base tests positive.
“If known, we will share how the individual became infected,” the posting said. Details such as employment and duty status, age or sex of the individual would not be released, nor would a running tally be published, it added. No Facebook notices had been issued as of Monday.
Oahu’s three major installations — the Marine Corps base, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and the Army’s Schofield Barracks — are all at Health Protection Condition Charlie, which signals sustained community transmission of disease. The next and highest condition, Delta, designates “widespread” transmission.