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Vandenberg Air Force Base limits access to only essential personnel amid pandemic

The Visitor Control Center hours of operation run from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week, including holidays. These new hours have been in effect since Aug. 2015 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Michael Peterson)

An order issued by the Vandenberg Air Force Base commander Thursday will limit access to the installation to only essential services and personnel beginning Friday in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The order was issued by 30th Space Wing’s Col. Anthony Mastalir, the base’s commander, limiting access to the military installation to only essential services and personnel starting Friday, March 20, at noon.

The 30th Medical Group Pharmacy, commissary and Base Exchange — or retail store — will remain open to all authorized beneficiaries, which include retirees, veterans and family members of active duty personnel who have a valid ID card.

No cases of coronavirus have been confirmed on the base, Mastalir said.

Nine confirmed cases of coronavirus have been reported in Santa Barbara County since Sunday, public health officials said, with at least six new cases confirmed Thursday.

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Despite limiting access, the base’s mission remains unaffected as Air Force officials work with their local and federal counterparts to actively combat the spread of coronavirus, Mastalir said.

“The health and safety of the men and women of Vandenberg remains our top priority,” Mastalir said. “We are remaining proactive in our efforts to safeguard our service members and their families.”

Up-to-date information on coronavirus at Vandenberg AFB can be found at www.vandenberg.af.mil/COVID-19 and on its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/30thSpaceWing.

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© 2020 Santa Maria Times