Well done was a key message from Maj. Gen. D.A. Sims during a Fort Riley COVID-19 town hall meeting this past week. "We have made a number of adjustments to our COVID mitigation measures. We have adjusted how we dine, whether we are in restaurants, bars, off-post fitness facilities. All those changes are the result of the impact you're having as it relates to personal mitigation measures, our ability to continue to wear masks, to socially distance appropriately and to get after personal hygiene and that's been a big deal."
Sims noted that from where Fort Riley was last November until now there is a major difference. "It's a dramatic difference and again that's because of what you have done."
Sims explained that analysts had projected the Post could be in the 4,000 to 5,000 total case range in early January. In April Fort Riley is not close to half of that number. He added it's hard to refute the fact that what has been done in mitigation has been the contributing factor to that.
"I know it has come at a personal cost in terms of interaction with people. I know it has come at a personal cost in relation to your desire to be inside a gym or inside a restaurant and I acknowledge all those impacts, " said Sims. "I certainly acknowledge the economic impact that we've had on the local community and we've had a number of conversations with our community partners as we've gone along."
Sims also noted it is important to know that we aren't done with the virus. There was a small bubble of case increases related to the spring break period, and those have started to reduce as well. "But COVID is not gone. " Several states have had increased hospitalizations including a bunch of states around Kansas. "We cannot afford to do that here. It would just be silly to go backwards at this point."
The 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley commanding general said the goals for the installation have not changed. "Our goal is to avoid loss of life, our goals are to avoid hospitalization, our goals are to continue to be able to train and make sure we are operationally ready as required if the nation calls. "
Sims added the goals also include ensuring Fort Riley does not move into a position where the Post is at stay at home so opportunities are lost for spouses to work and children to go school. "We are doing great against those goals but it's important to remember that we're not done yet."