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Joint Base Andrews News

NEWS | April 8, 2020

JBA Commander answers COVID-19 questions live on Facebook (April 7)

By 11th Wing Public Affairs 11th Wing Public Affairs

Col. Andrew Purath, 11th Wing and Joint Base Andrews installation commander, answered questions live on Facebook, April 7, 2020, to address the most pressing questions on the novel coronavirus pandemic from base personnel and the surrounding community.


Purath was joined by Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Daniels, 11th Wing command chief during the live question-and-answer session which lasted approximately 54 minutes and covered various elements of the current public health crisis, mostly as they relate to JBA's response and the changes in base services/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? (

Joint Base Andrews is OPEN with LIMITED services.



Are there any new closures or changes to services this week?


  • The Child Development Centers are open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the youth programs for school-aged children have moved to CDC 2. 
  • Effective April 8, Virginia Gate will be closed until further notice. 



Are we allowed to wear masks in uniform?


Col. Purath: The Secretary of Defense has released guidance to wear a cloth face covering when they cannot maintain six feet of social distance in public areas or work centers.


This guidance applies to all service members, DOD civilians, contractors, families (apart from residences on installations) and all other individuals on DOD property.


I ask that they somehow complement the uniform and not have anything offensive or objectionable on it until we have more guidance. 


How to wear and use cloth face coverings:


The Department of Defense Guidance on the Use of Cloth Face Coverings:



Some telework employees don’t have a laptop to use at home. Are we getting any more equipment to do our jobs from home soon?


Col. Purath: We are getting more laptops. The communications group is taking those orders in from the units and they’re filling them as fast as they can. There’s a huge demand for the system and it still has to go through the normal process. 



What is being done to protect your AD members who are currently pregnant considering they have been moved to the high-risk category for COVID-19? Would the risk to the service member and unborn child outweigh the mission-essential status?


Col. Purath: I’m hesitant to put a specific answer without knowing all the details. We’ve given supervisors and commanders wide latitude into how they need to take care of their forces.  


If there is some level of discomfort, or you don’t think the CDC guidance is being interpreted correctly and you’ve brought that up to your supervisor and didn’t get the answer you wanted; use your chain of command. 


It’s not our intent to put anyone in harm’s way or not be in compliance with the CDC guidance. 



Why are there not cart wipes at the BX and commissary? 


Col. Purath: There are wipes provided as you come in. 



Will they start making one-way traffic throughout the commissary, like other stores off base?


Col. Purath: As it stands, there is a limit of 100 people in the commissary, and the manager feels based on that limit, there is not a need for one-way traffic. 



Can first responders get entry before everyone else so they don’t have to wait and risk getting an alarm and not be able to get any shopping done? 


Col. Purath: I’m open to that; however, it hasn’t come up as an issue from the first responder units. Until I hear from them, I don’t know that we need to adjust a whole lot. 


Why did the CDC [Center for Disease Control] change their stance on the use of masks to protect against COVID-19? 


Col. Purath: Every day we learn more about how it’s transmitted, what it’s resistant to, what populations it affects and the symptoms it creates. I think that the change is just the maturing of the conversation based on the more we know. 



My wife was due to PCS to my base one week after the stop movement in March and has been denied? Is her PCS covered under the exemption to policy? 


Col. Purath: These decisions are difficult and we’re handling them case by case. Exceptions to policy have been made, but are difficult to receive. 


If we continue filling out temporary stop payments for the CDC [Child Development Center] for an undetermined amount of time, will we be at risk for our child losing his or her slot at the CDC? 


Chief Daniels: No. 



Other bases have begun limiting access to mission-essential only to include limiting appointments or visiting the commissary for retirees to only Tuesday and Friday to potentially slow the spread to on-base personnel. Is this something being considered at JBA? 


Col. Purath: We would adjust our posture if the DoD [Department of Defense] instructs to or if other installations in the National Capital Region change their posture. I would be concerned if we were the only installation that still has access, we wouldn’t be able to handle that. 



Any ideas on how to stay active as an Airman in the dorms since the gyms and basketball courts are closed? 


Chief Daniels: There are plenty of resources you can find online with a quick search for bodyweight workouts and popular gyms are putting out free resources. It may not be the same workout you’re used to doing but it’s good enough to keep you active and get you in enough shape.  



With all the barbershops and beauty salons closed off base, is there any thought of potentially relaxing hair grooming standards for JBA? 


Col. Purath: The direction from the Air Force is pretty clear that they’re going to rely on commanders to make judgments on what’s appropriate. I expect commanders to use common sense and each mission partner is going to have to decide what that looks like for them. 


My husband was supposed to cross train when they closed the office for it. Will we be able to cross train after his window closes?  


Col. Purath: The FSS is open, so the retraining office is open. They may be teleworking.