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Joint Base Andrews News

NEWS | April 1, 2020

JBA Commander Answers COVID-19 Questions Live on Facebook (March 31)

11th Wing Public Affairs

Col. Andrew Purath, 11th Wing and Joint Base Andrews installation commander, answered questions live on Facebook, March 31, 2020, to address the most pressing questions on the the surrounding community.


Purath joined by his wife, Kelly, and Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Daniels, 11th Wing command chief during the live question-and answer session lasting approximately 54 minutes, covered numerous elements of the current public health crisis, mostly as they relate to JBA's response and the changes in base services and activities.


Below is a condensed and summarized transcript of the live online conversation. Similar questions and answers are grouped together and additional context has been added for clarity.


What is the current status of affairs? 

JBA is open with limited service and operating at Health Protection Condition [HPCON] Charlie.

With Gov. Hogan now issuing a stay-home order, does this change anything?


Col. Purath: This hasn’t changed anything at JBA. We feel like the base has been well postured to be in compliance and we’ll continue the safety measures and guidelines set by the CDC [Center for Disease Control] and state government.



Why was the number of cases of people who have received medical care on Joint Base Andrew taken off of the website?


We got public affairs guidance to not report at our level. We have replaced our reporting data with a link to the Maryland site on the JBA COVID site.



Are there any plans to add mobile hand washing stations before going into major public places, like the BX, Commissary, chow hall or even the tents by the clinic?


Purath: We can look into that. There are logistics to work out with several units.

Daniels: I would need to talk to public health first and make sure that is the correct course of action.



With other bases in the NCR making posts preparing residents/employees about the possible HPCON of “D” will JBA be doing the same? And what can we expect with it?


Purath: There is no overarching driver that would take us to HPCON Delta. The installation is postured extremely well to both protect safety and conduct the missions we’ve been asked to conduct. That doesn’t mean we won’t be directed to. From a practical standpoint, I do not believe things change very much at JBA. There won’t be a blanket closure of the commissary or BX, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that we limit access to installation as well.


Could JBA implement a similar system used at Ft. Belvior where the driver scans their ID?


Purath: We’ve looked at this, I think it would not be efficient enough in speed of use and may not be beneficial to implement here.



What services are available to families who did not have stockpiles of household paper products and now there are none to buy?


Daniels: Our community on the Joint Base Andrews Community Page is doing a great job at keeping everyone informed about which stores have paper products at specific times.


Mrs. Purath: I think we’re going to have to get creative with helping each other out. This is not an immediate area issue, it’s a nationwide issue.


Col. Purath: I would ask folks to help out their community where you can when you can, especially those who are in a situation where it’s harder for them to get out of the house.


When will the commander take into consideration the health and safety of the childcare providers who are taking care of small children on this base every day?


Chief Daniels: There are discussions every single day with our public health about the safety of our CDCs [Child Development Center] and what we need to do to make sure that we’re following CDC [Center for Disease Control] guidelines every day.


What will happen if there is a positive COVID-19 case at the CDC?


Col. Purath: We will continue to follow the CDC [Center for Disease Control] guidance and public health recommendations.


When will the Commissary get the plastic sneeze shields for cashiers? 


Col. Purath: I don’t know the timeline for our base.

Mrs. Purath: I don’t know when, but I know they’re coming.


Any thought of doing curbside pickup at the commissary to limit people coming in and to protect the workers and shoppers?


Col. Purath: I would have to defer to the commissary on the mechanics of that.


Is the commissary doing any additional hiring?


Col. Purath: There’s absolutely hiring. The manager at the commissary just brought on 10 new associates and DECA has given some overtime authorization. We also still have volunteers helping in the evenings to help stock.


Why are we not cutting the hours for the BX?


Col. Purath: The current hours are 9 a.m.- 6 p.m., they essentially match the commissary hours, so they have cut hours.


Will civilians who live on base be able to utilize post facilities (commissary, BX, etc.) in the even the outside areas become a shelter in place situation?


Col. Purath: The short answer is yes. We have some waiver authority in place.


Why were four handicap stalls removed from the BX parking lot for Starbucks pickup?


Col. Purath: We are still settling on a final parking configuration and will look into this.



What is the process for Non-Formulary drugs for the drive-thru? Is it different than other drugs? 


Col. Purath: The process hasn’t changed. If you have further questions, I ask you to reach out the pharmacy for the best answer.



Does Malcolm Grow have occupational health?


Col. Purath: Yes, we have an occupational health function at the clinic.


How are we accounting manpower hours of the providers working?


Col. Purath: I would ask that you understand and appreciate what Malcolm Grow Clinic and Surgery Center is capable of. It’s not an inpatient clinic; it’s set up for routine care plus an emergent care center.


Will residents who are active duty civilians and contractors be required to take the COVID-19 test?


Col. Purath: There’s no requirement right now. We’re following the CDC guidance on testing.


Mrs. Purath: As a nation, there’s not a capability to test that many people. You have to have a referral and a doctor’s order. If you’re having symptoms, call your healthcare provider and they will speak to you over the phone. If you’re having difficulty breathing, or if it’s a true emergency, seek medical attention immediately.


Are there test kits available at Malcolm Grow?


Col. Purath: Yes, we do. However, we don’t have 17,000 for all the people who work on base.



What happens to the fitness boxes and basketball courts?


Col. Purath: They are closed. Keeping them open wasn’t in line with social distance guidelines.


Has there been any thought of doing a blood drive on base?


Col. Purath: I don’t know if we’ve looked at doing one on base. I know there’s a big push for blood drives in general for the Armed Services Blood Program.


For more information and to find local blood drives visit:



What happens after the 30-day declaration of a public health emergency?


Col. Purath: We’ll review and see if we need to extend.


When will civilian telework be allowed?


Col. Purath: We are following the OPM [Office of Personnel Management] guidance and we are exercising the flexibility they gave us for our civilian workforce.



Is contact tracing occurring for those who have been exposed at JBA, who was doing the tracing? What role is testing playing in this tracing?


Col. Purath: Yes, that is a function of public health and within the CDC guidelines.


Is the post office still open?


Col. Purath: Yes.


Can you talk about coping and resources available to Airmen and families struggling to adjust to the new normal?


Col. Purath: All novel coronavirus pandemic from base personnel and of the resources that are normally available to our military family are still available. What has changed is the way they’re going to deliver the service.


Resources to help during COVID-19

(Click/Tap to view the PDF version if you wish to use the links)