Statement on the AAFB COVID-19 outbreak from 36th Wing commander Brig. Gen. Gentry Boswell

1524

The statement below was given by Brig. Gen. Gentry Boswell, 36th Wing Commander during a joint news conference with Lou Leon Guerrero, Governor of Guam and Rear Adm. John Menoni, Commander Joint Region Marianas June 22, 2020.

“Recently, Andersen AFB has experienced a surge of COVID19 positive cases among service members assigned to the base. These Airmen were initially billeted at the Guam Reef Hotel.  All members of the unit were immediately placed in medical quarantine on Andersen.  At this time, all are being monitored routinely and are in stable condition with no medical complications. 

As of Saturday, 20 June, 100% of the unit has been tested with 35 members testing positive.  Due to operational security concerns, we will not disclose any further details on these members. 

It is unclear if the members contracted COVID-19 while on Guam or prior to arriving on Guam.

We have been in constant contact with the Governor and her staff and working in conjunction with the Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services to deal with this issue.  Public Health investigators assigned to the 36th Medical Group are conducting information sharing and contact tracing for service members who have contracted COVID-19.  We are committed to absolute transparency with Public Health’s contact tracing efforts to ensure the safety of the local population. 

These service members received daily medical screening and that is how we identified the first cases. Members were authorized to travel to and from work and make trips for essential needs only. All personnel were required to wear protective mask and adhere to strict social distancing guidelines. The 36th Wing is still operating under a declared Public Health emergency with restrictive measures and protocols to prevent the spread of COVID19 within our military and civilian communities.

Preliminary evidence in the Public Health investigation revealed the possibility that some of these members may not have adhered to Andersen and local Public Health directives.  I have initiated an investigation into this matter to determine the facts.  All military members are subject to the established Public Health Emergency protocols.  If the ensuing investigation determines that members did not follow these directives in a disciplined manner, they will be held accountable for their actions under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  As this is an ongoing investigation, I will not comment any further. 

Our primary focus is to care for these Airmen, and ensure the safety of both our military and civilian community.  We have and will continue to work with the Governor and Guam Public Health as we move forward.

Additionally, two Airmen deployed to Guam to assist with the local medical response tested positive for COVID-19. The two positive members have also been relocated to Andersen AFB and the remaining members of that unit are in quarantine.

This second unit consists of medical personnel that arrived on Guam, April 9th, to support Expeditionary Medical Support System operations at Naval Hospital Guam. These medical professionals did not have contact with the unit lodged at the Guam Reef and the cases are unrelated. 

In summary, the current total of Airmen who have tested positive with COVID-19 is 37. Again, all are in medical quarantine at Andersen AFB.

Despite this setback, Andersen AFB remains 100% operational and is able to execute all of its assigned missions.  The joint team that comprises Team Andersen remain poised and ready to fulfill our mission to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific region and provide security for the territory of Guam.

In closing, we will get through this challenge in the same manner as we always have—by working together.  We are thankful for Gov Guam and JRM efforts to support our Airmen and our community during this time.”