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COVID-19 cases confirmed at Kirtland Air Force Base, Fort Bliss

An aerial view of Fort Bliss. (Butch/WikiMedia)

Three confirmed COVID-19 cases at Kirtland Air Force Base are the only coronavirus cases at military bases fully within New Mexico, but four have been confirmed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, which extends into the southern part of the state.

There are no confirmed cases at Holloman Air Force Base near Alamogordo, Cannon Air Force Base near Clovis, or White Sands Missile Range, but spokesmen at Cannon and White Sands told the Journal there were people at both installations who are self-monitoring as a precaution.

“We do have people self-monitoring who just came back from areas of concern,” Cannon spokesperson J.P. Robello said. He said about 100 airmen and dependents were self-monitoring as of Friday.

Kirtland Air Force Base spokeswoman Eva Blaylock said the three positive cases were two military personnel and a spouse who had recently traveled. The four at Fort Bliss are from a reserve unit from New York. Blaylock said the Kirtland cases were in self-isolation. The soldiers at Fort Bliss are being quarantined, but the Army post said in a news release on Facebook that there was no evidence of community spread.

Kirtland officials said in a release that they were monitoring the cases with the New Mexico Department of Health.

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All five bases have imposed measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

The fitness centers at Kirtland are closed. But the child development and youth centers are open. The chapel is open, but worship services are not permitted.

All have nonessential personnel working from home. Large gatherings were limited, and social distancing requirements have been put into place. Basic services continued, and facilities such as the commissary, base exchange, chapel and pharmacy remained open at each installation. But Cannon and Fort Bliss closed fitness centers. Food services were being limited at Holloman and Cannon to takeout only.

White Sands spokesman John Hamilton told the Journal that personnel on that installation were urged to be cautious when going to the gym. Hamilton said the installation was closing its museum.

The bases were restricting access to military personnel, family members, civilian employees and contractors.

“No additional access restrictions are in place,” Kirtland Air Force Base officials said in a release, adding that more restrictions may be implemented later.

Holloman Air Force Base said in a release that retirees would have access to the medical clinic only. Hamilton said that was also the case for missile range. Both Holloman and White Sands were honoring visitor passes, but no new ones were being issued.

The military missions at each of the installations were continuing, but the restrictions are having an impact, officials said.

“We’re still doing testing at the missile range,” Hamilton said. “But travel restrictions are limiting some of the testing.”

NM military bases implement measures to prevent spread.

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© 2020 the Albuquerque Journal