ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. – Due to a new Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) policy, effective Saturday, April 11, all patrons and employees at the base commissary and Army and Air Force Exchange (AAFES) facilities will be required to wear face coverings to help limit the spread of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
DeCA sent out the new policy April 9 making face coverings mandatory for facilities worldwide starting April 10. After a thorough review and consultation with base leaders, the 28th Bomb Wing commander directed the policy be delayed until April 11 at Ellsworth to ensure the base community and store patrons are aware of the change.
“More importantly, the extra time will give people an opportunity to obtain masks and ensure they are able to comply with the new policy,” said Col. David Doss, 28th BW commander.
As of noon April 9, the South Dakota Department of Health reported 447 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the state, with eight cases originating in the counties immediately adjacent to Ellsworth. Because of the limited spread of the virus in the immediate area, the availability and wear of face coverings is not yet as common as it is in other locations.
The wing commander recently authorized the voluntary wear of personally procured face coverings. The base is expecting a shipment of unit-purchased face coverings for distribution to Ellsworth personnel next week.
Ellsworth has been in Health Protection Condition (HPCON) level Charlie since March 25. There have been no reported cases of COVID-19 on Ellsworth, however, the base declared a Public Health Emergency the same day it moved to HPCON Charlie to align base measures with existing precautionary measures, and help educate personnel in preventing potential widespread outbreak.
For more information, call the 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs Office at (605) 385-5056.