Jackson answers COVID-19 during virtual town hall

Photo By Alexandra Shea | A camera switchboard operator tests the system on March 20, 2020 before live streaming a virtual town hall with Fort Jackson’s top leadership. During the town hall, new security measures emplaced across the installation were discussed as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread. The Fort Jackson local community as well as the Families of trainees were invited to attend the town hall and participate in a live question and answer session with top installation command members.
March 26, 2020

“Good afternoon Team Jackson and all of our extended Families out there for tuning in with us for our fifth community town hall related to COVID-19,” said U.S. Army Training Center and Fort Jackson Commander Brig. Gen. Milford H. “Beags” Beagle Jr. “I thank you all for joining us.”

Joining Beagle were Col. Chad A. Koenig, Moncrief Army Health Clinic commander, Col. Wes Hankins, garrison commander and Col. J.C. White, the 193rd Infantry Brigade commander.

Beagle and his leadership team held a virtual town hall on March 19 to discuss changes and new policies that recently took effect across the installation to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and protect Soldiers, civilians and their Families.

“Our goal since our first town hall is to keep our Families, workforce, local community and our extended family informed,” Beagle said as he opened the town hall. “I can understand how hard it is to keep up with the changes since they are rapidly developing.”

Fort Jackson is combating the threat of the virus through prevention, detection and containment measures.

The measures included restricting dining-in at the food court and eateries across the installation, exposure questioning at gate entrances, suspension of social activities and events, school closures and restricting the number of customers allowed into the Commissary to 100.

“Our goal has been to go in strict early,” Beagle said. “It keeps us proactive instead of reactive.”

Fort Jackson trains over 60% of America’s fighting force throughout the year and trainees’ Families were invited to tune into the town hall to get information about their Soldiers.

More than 650 Facebook users tuned into the stream and the top question asked included the recently released stop movement of Soldiers across the Army and its effect on Fort Jackson trainees.

“The (trainees) that graduated, are (they) being moved to Advanced Individual Training?” asked Facebook user Amanda Shain.

“They will ship to Advanced Individual Training,” White said.

White also said trainees and their Families will soon know when they
will report to their AIT locations.

Koenig spoke to help dispel fears for the Families of Soldiers and trainees

“I want to clear up one misconception I hear quite often,” Koenig. “Just
because you may test positive for COVID-19 does not mean that you are
going to stay in a hospital. In most cases, you would not go to a hospital.
Think of it in the way of a case of a really bad flu. Some people can end up in a hospital but the vast majority will not.”

Koenig also explained how an acute care clinic has been established
at Moncrief Army Health Clinic to receive patients who have COVID-19
symptoms which include a fever, coughing and shortness of breath.

As the town hall came to a close, the leadership team stressed the need
to continue to take personal protective measures such as social distancing
and consistent hand washing. The team also stressed for the communities
to remain flexible as precautionary measures across the installation may
increase in the coming weeks. They also suggested following Fort Jackson
social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to stay aware of potential changes, ask questions and to participate in future virtual town halls.

“We receive a lot of questions daily and we ask that you keep those questions coming in,” Beagle said. “Our goal is to keep you informed of what’s happening.”

Another virtual town hall is scheduled for this afternoon at 3:30 p.m.