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Town Hall Question and Answer on COVID-19

Here are the the frequently asked questions from the Commander's Town Hall on Facebook Live, current as of 9 November. We will continue adding and updating this content. The Facebook Live events are still available to watch at the following links:

Hit the quick links to find responses on specific topics:


Base Response to COVID-19 and Mitigating Risk:

Q: Are there any confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Vandenberg SFB?

A: There are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Vandenberg SFB. However, there are confirmed cases in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties. For the most up-to-date information about the local area, please visit publichealthsbc.org and https://www.emergencyslo.org/en/covid19.aspx


Q: What is the guidance for staying at home?

A: The President is recommending that we stay at home for the next two weeks, and we are going to do our best to heed that direction. When human beings are traveling, it increases the rate at which the virus is spread. California Governor Gavin Newsom implemented an executive order on March 19, which ordered all individuals to stay home except for essential needs such as traveling to and from critical job functions, gas stations, grocery stores, medical appointments and more. For more information, please review the state’s official website at https://covid19.ca.gov/stay-home-except-for-essential-needs/.

A: The President is recommending that we stay at home until at least April 30th, and Col Mastalir is encouraging base members to heed that direction. California Governor Gavin Newsom implemented an executive order on March 19, which ordered all individuals to stay home except for essential needs such as traveling to and from critical job functions, gas stations, grocery stores, medical appointments and more. For more information, please review the state’s official website at https://covid19.ca.gov/stay-home-except-for-essential-needs/. (Update - 6 April)


Q: What are we doing to mitigate risks across the base?

A: Across the base, we have already eliminated many in-person meetings, implemented teleconferencing and teleworking programs for both military and civilians where applicable, and reduced the number of individuals in any given location to align with the President’s guidance of 10 people or less in any one room. 


Q: Is there enhanced protocol for checking IDs at base gates? 

A: Installation entry controllers have altered procedures in response to COVID-19. When approaching the gate, we ask that drivers have the ID cards of all occupants in the vehicle in-hand. Defenders will not touch ID cards. Please present the front of the card to the Defender. When prompted, turn the card for scanning. Repeat this process for all subsequent IDs.


Q: Are there test kits on base?

A: Yes. The Vandenberg Medical Group has the ability to test for COVID-19. Currently, we are testing our base populace on a case-by-case basis. At this time, testing is only for those who are presenting symptoms. If you think you might have COVID-19 or are presenting any symptoms, please call the 30th Medical Group at 805-606-CARE for further guidance.


Q: Will dependents be allowed to test for COVID-19?

A: Dependents are still entitled to the same level of care that their provider recommends, to include testing for COVID-19. Currently, we are testing our base populace on a case-by-case basis. At this time, testing is only for those who are presenting symptoms. If you think you might have COVID-19 or are presenting any symptoms, please call the 30th Medical Group at 805-606-CARE for further guidance.


Q: What are we doing for testing? Have any tests been administered?

A: We are testing personnel that meet the threshold for testing per a practitioner's assessment of their unique situation. At this time, we are only testing those who are showing symptoms. We have administered a handful of tests, which have all come back negative. We are still recommending that anyone presenting any symptoms remain at home and call the 30th Medical Group at 805-606-CARE for further guidance.


Q: What is being done to address the work situations of tenant units?

A: Members of tenant units, to include the 576th Flight Test Squadron and the 381st Training Group, should engage with their leadership regarding requirements and expectations during this time.


Q: If I have a cold, should I stay at home?

A: Yes. If you are sick, please stay at home. For a large percentage of the population who contract COVID-19, they only show cold-like symptoms. As a measure of precaution, we are recommending that even with minor symptoms you remain at home. Before returning to work, please call the 30th Medical Group at 805-606-CARE for further guidance.


Q: What do we do if we are around someone who has self-isolated due to minor illness and/or symptoms?

A: If you think you may have been exposed to any illnesses or are showing any symptoms, please call the 30th Medical Group at 805-606-CARE for further guidance.


Q: What is the status of the Fitness Center?

A: The Fitness Center is open by appointment only for all authorized users, Fitness Annex remains closed. Call the Fitness Center at 805-606-3832 to make an appointment. Hours of operation are: Mon-Fri from 4:30 AM - 10:30 PM, Sat-Sun from 8 AM - 8 PM. New rules in place: ID required for entry - Temperatures taken at entry - masks required - maintain 6ft of distance from others - customers required to use hand sanitizer on entry - wipe down all equipment after use - no locker room use -  bathrooms in lobby are available.


Q: Where can we get the most up-to-date information?

A: For all base-related information, please use the USAF Connect mobile app or visit the VAFB website COVID-19 page. The Vandenberg Facebook Page will also post updates and host future live stream events. For general information and guidance regarding COVID-19, please visit the website for the Center for Disease Control.


Q: Are preparations on base being made to prepare for the next stage after flatten the curve?

A: We are continually monitoring the situation and preparing ourselves for the long-term, to include health practices and mission requirements. Preserving the health and wellbeing of our space warfighters is the top priority. Our mission and national security depends on it. Please refer to Public Health Directive #4 – Phased Recovery for what is being done for public health and mission requirements in both the short- and long-term.


Q: Can you elaborate on the email that was sent by Balfour Beatty to base residents?

A: This is a proactive step to ensure that all paperwork is in place should an enforcement stage of base access be necessary. You have time to pick up the memorandum in question. If you have any concerns regarding the pick up of your document, please reach out to BBC directly.


Base Access:

Q: When will Solvang gate be back open 24/7? 

A: At this time, the Solvang Gate will operate under its limited hours of 6 AM to 10 PM. We are looking into resuming normal operations as soon as we can.


Q: We did a Personally Procured Move (PPM) and are expecting our household goods container next week. Will I be able to sponsor the driver to drop off/pick up the container to base housing?

A: Yes. Private household good deliveries will be treated like a commercial delivery in which case they will be permitted on base. Please contact the Visitor Control Center at 805-606-7662 for further guidance.


Q: Can contractors still report for work?

A: Yes, if you are deemed mission essential and have official business on Vandenberg SFB, you will still be permitted on base. If you are unsure about your status, please contact your appropriate POC or chain-of-command for further guidance.


Q: Will base visitors be limited?

A: Base access has been limited to mission essential personnel and services only. Essential services include the pharmacy, Commissary and Base Exchange for all beneficiaries who possess a valid I.D. If you have official business on Vandenberg SFB and possess a valid I.D. or base pass, you will still be permitted on base for official purposes. Base residents will still be allowed to sponsor guests in their homes on a case-by-case basis. The Visitor Control Center is limiting guest passes to 5 day passes at a time. If you currently have a 30 day pass, you will have to reapply for a 5 day pass at the visitors center. Commercial deliveries such as USPS, UPS, FedEx, private moving companies and the like will also be permitted on base. Please contact your chain-of-command and/or the Visitor Control Center at 805-606-7662 for further guidance.


Stop Movement (PCS/TDY/Leave):

Q: Is there any reason to believe the Stop Movement will extend beyond June 30, 2020?

A: At this time, there isn’t reason to believe the stop movement order will be extended. However, this projection is continuously under review and subject to change.


Q: What is the current leave policy for Vandenberg AFB?

A: Military members can still take leave inside of the local area. There is an expanded local leave area for Vandenberg SFB as of 20 May 20. All military members are hereby limited to local leave (and liberty) only. All other leave is cancelled.


Q: Can I travel through LA County to get to approved my destination? 

Once official guidance expands the local leave area, you may travel through LA County. You are not authorized to stop in LA county for anything other than gas and restroom breaks. Visiting friends and family or attending social engagements in LA County is restricted for military members.


Q: Will airmen scheduled to PCS to a base that has confirmed cases of the virus still be able to move if they are considered mission essential?

A: A travel exception may be granted for compelling cases where the travel is determined to be mission-essential, necessary for humanitarian reasons, or warranted due to extreme hardship. If you feel like your situation warrants an exemption, please get in contact with your chain-of-command. Additionally, you will want to get in contact with your receiving MPF to make sure they are able to in-process you.


Q: How does Governor Newsom’s executive order affect me?

A: Governor Newsom's executive order does not preclude essential personnel from traveling to and from Vandenberg SFB. You will also be allowed to travel for essential needs like food, medical appointments, banks and pharmacies. For more information on the order, please review the state's official website at www.covid19.ca.gov/stay-home-except-for-essential-needs/ 


Q: Will this keep people from deploying?

A: No. Deployers are considered mission essential and are planned to still depart as scheduled.


Q: Will this keep people from coming home from deployment within the next few months?

A: No. Currently, members will still return home; however, it is possible that returns will be delayed by two to four weeks. Disruptions to transportation movement caused by DoD travel restrictions will be mitigated as much as possible, so base members and families should prepare for potential delays in deployment timelines.


Q: The stop movement has created a hardship for me and my family. Are there any exceptions?

A: A travel exception may be granted for compelling cases where the travel is determined to be mission-essential, necessary for humanitarian reasons, or warranted due to extreme hardship. If you feel like your situation warrants an exemption, please get in contact with your chain-of-command.


Q: Does the stop movement order also apply to dependents?

A: All official government travel has been postponed for military and their dependents; however, dependents are not subject to the same stop movement restrictions as their military sponsor.  Based on guidance from the President and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we are recommending that everyone limit their travel to the best of their ability to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.


Q: I work for a local moving company. Will all moves be stopped?

A: Many moves will be postponed, but some exceptions apply to include mission essential moves and customers requiring shipments to be picked up due to termination of rental lease agreement or home sale. In addition, individuals pending retirement and separation within the next 60 days do not require an exception. Shipments already in route may be stored in transit at origin, en route, or at destination.


Q: Where will quarantine be held for deployed spouses coming home for people with high risk families?

A: Quarantine procedures for members returning from deployment will be determined on a case by case basis depending on medical assessment of risk and which area members are returning from.


Regarding Face Mask Policy:

Q: Are you accepting homemade mask donations? If so, where can people send them?

A: If you are interesting in donating homemade face coverings, the 30th Medical Group requests these donations be dropped-off at the front of the Medical Group building, at the main entrance. These masks will be provided to those entering the medical group building who don't already have their own face covering. Feel free to drop off face coverings between 0700 and 1630. We will have a wheeled cart you can place donations into that is close to the front of the medical group. Feel free to contact Maj Reid at 805-606-6740 for any questions or concerns. Thank you in advance Team V for helping us to flatten the curve!


Q: Are there regulations for what military can wear as face coverings? What colors are permissible?

A: The policy for mask wearing is outlined in Public Health Directive #4 - Phased Recovery. The CDC also offers face covering guidance on their website.


Q: Will a mask need to be worn if walking or running outside without anyone else?

A: No, the mask will not be required for independent outdoor activities.


Q: What about the fire mask I have left over from a couple years ago?

A: The DoD is encouraging use of cloth coverings so as to enable critical supplies to continue to be supplied to healthcare workers.


Q: What about wearing gloves as policy?

A: Currently, there is no requirement for service members to wear gloves. We do encourage all members to be mindful of their hand-to-surface contact and take appropriate health precautions for all out-of-home engagements.


Military and Civilian Personnel:

Q: What is the expectation of PT testing moving forward?

A: PT testing is set to resume in June, and the Air Force Personnel Center is drafting up guidelines for fitness testing. When testing resumes, toe bars will be used to enable the sit up portion, and your PT leaders will abide by the Wing Commander's limits on crowd size. Those units that already do their own testing will continue to do their own testing, and those units who use the SLD 30 Fitness Assessment Cell will continue to schedule and conduct their testing through the FAC.


Q: Are you planning on any kind of minimal manning for the base?

A: Commanders are continually evaluating mission requirements and personnel required to implement those tasks. Commanders have also begun to implement telework plans as the mission allows. The situation is ongoing and will be adjusted as required.


Q: With the positive case at BMT, is that going to change anything with the incoming students coming onto the base?

A: Vandenberg leadership is aware of the positive case at basic training and are monitoring the situation for more information as it comes out.


Q: What steps are being taken for the VPN capacity so we can access official email while teleworking?

A: VPN is being supported by the Space Launch Delta 30's very own Space Communications Squadron. Please reach out to Com Focal Point at 805-606-2622 if any questions regarding your connection.


Q: Will civilians still get paid even if they are deemed non-mission essential personnel?

A: Yes. At this time, there is no guidance that will prevent non-mission essential civilians from getting paid due to the response to COVID-19. Guidance is rapidly changing, sometimes by the hour. We will inform everyone of any changes if/when we receive the guidance.


Q: Is MPF still open? Can I still re-enlist, in-process or out-process? What about retirements and separations?

A: The 30th Force Support Squadron’s Military Personnel Flight will be by appointment only for all re-enlistment and in/out-processing requirements. Retirements and separations remain unaffected. Please call MPF customer service desk at 805-606-2276 or reference their website at www.vandenberg.fss.com for further guidance.


Medical Screening:

Q: If you can have the virus without a fever, how does taking temperatures at the CDC help?

A: By screening for symptoms, our medical personnel are able to better identify people who may be at-risk for illness, and send them home. For more information about how screening at various locations around base can make a difference, check out these stories on the 30th Medical Group testing at the CDC: https://www.vandenberg.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2122267/taking-care-of-our-airmen-and-families-amid-covid-19/ https://www.vandenberg.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2134841/better-safe-than-sorry-30th-mdg-covid-19-screening/


Reporting / Future Guidelines:

Q: Will mail services continue if the HPCon raises to Hpcon Delta?

A: At this time, there are no plans to suspend mail services as they are considered mission essential.


Q: Do we have any known cases on base?

A: Out of concern for operational security with regard to readiness, Vandenberg will not report the aggregate number of individual service member cases in our individual unit. Instead, the Air Force will provide a daily public update. Additionally, the Department of Defense will continue to offer a public daily update of the full number of cases in all services and of civilians, contractors, and dependants. https://www.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2107619/air-force-update-for-covid-19/


Commissary & Food:

Q: What is the plan for food and dining?

A: We are taking aggressive measures to increase your availability to food. We have eliminated all dine-in options across the base, but we are working to make all facilities available for carry-out. We have also expanded the Pacific Coast Club’s Meals-to-Go program which is now available Monday-Friday with curbside pick up. We are also working with the Commissary to maintain regular shipments, which currently come five days per week (Monday-Wed, Friday and Saturday).


Q: What is the Commissary doing in light of COVID-19?

A: The Defense Commissary Agency has put up stations to direct customers to line up in an orderly fashion. Shelves are being restocked with available supplies daily, as efficiently and quickly as possible. The Commissary receives five shipments per week – Monday-Wed, Friday and Saturday. The Commissary is limited to 100 patrons at a time, and offers an earlier shopping window specifically for patrons who have medical conditions and/or patrons who are older (60+) from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., Monday through Friday and from 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Regular store hours are available for all patrons, 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9:00 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.


Q: Will dependents have access to the Commissary?

A: Yes. Dependents with IDs will still have access to the Commissary.


Children / Playground Status:

Q: What process needs to happen for non-custodial parents with kids flying in for the summer?

A: There are no visitor restrictions for bringing dependents on base. If a dependent is flying in from a high-risk area, please contact your chain-of-command to ensure proper precautionary measures, if any, are being taken.


Q: Will children be allowed to play outside together? 

A: Children ages 6+ must wear a mask and can play in groups of 10 or less.


Q: What is the current policy surrounding playground use on base?

A: The current playground guidance is for families to be mindful of their social distancing and use empty playgrounds one family at a time. We encourage families to sanitize before play as they see fit.


Q: During the last town hall we were told that we could use the playgrounds, but Balfour Beatty has the parks closed. Is Cocheo the only park open for play?

A: Cocheo park is open, and you are permitted to gather in groups of 10 or less. Please refer to Balfour Beatty for guidance regarding the opening of their parks in housing.


Education

Q: Are T-K registrations still going to happen?

A: Yes, they are at this time. Please contact your local school.


Child Development and Youth Centers:

Q: Who are CDC programs open to and under which circumstances?

A: Mission essential use of the CDC is only offered for mission essential parents that do not have another caregiver in their household who is capable of providing childcare. In an effort to protect base members, we ask that parents only use the CDC when absolutely necessary for their family support.


Q: What education programs are available for support?

A: A variety of educational resources can be found through the Vandenberg FSS page https://www.vandenbergfss.com/child-youth-edu/ or our school liaison, Karen Cook at karen.cook.2@us.af.mil. For inquiries about the education center, please email their workflow for mission essential needs. The customer service line has been suspended with the stop movement, and this is the best way to reach them.


Q: Are Squadrons/Commanders actively looking at which of their Mission Essential personnel have alternative means of childcare?

A: Yes, if a parent is home, whether or not the parent is marked as mission essential, then children should be kept at home, too. The more parents who keep their children at home with them, the less people who will come in out of the Child Development Center. If your command has designated you as mission essential, and you have to come into work a few days a week, you can utilize the Child Care Center on those days when you need to come into work. While you are teleworking, your children should remain home, too.


Q: Will the Child Development or Youth Centers be closing?

A: The Child Development Center remains operational for mission essential personnel only, the Youth Center is closed. We will monitor drop offs to ensure that only children of mission essential personnel are using the CDC. As the situation regarding base access changes, we will adjust. The intent is to keep them open as long as it is safe in order to continue to support children of personnel required to work. If you choose to voluntarily self-isolate your child, you are eligible for a refund. Please contact the appropriate program for further guidance - CDC: 805-606-1555 | YC: 805-606-2152.


Q: If schools are closed, why keep the CDC open? What are you doing to mitigate risk?

A: At this time, the Child Development Center remains operational. The intent is to keep it open as long as it is safe in order to continue to support children of personnel required to work. We have increased sanitization, screening and contact tracing efforts. If it gets to the point that we feel the need to close the CDC for health and safety reasons, then we will absolutely do so. Every child will be screened before entering the CDC, and any child who has a fever will be sent home. We have also increased sanitization efforts within the CDC an YC, such as frequent hand washing and wiping down all surfaces.


Q: If we choose to remove our children from the Child Development Center or Youth Center, will we be charged?

A: Families enrolled at the CDC and YC are eligible for refunds if they choose to voluntarily self-isolate due to COVID-19. Please contact the appropriate program for further guidance - CDC: 805-606-1555 | YC: 805-606-2152


Q: When will Youth Center programs and classes re-open?

A: We are staying in close contact with VSFB Public Health to determine when we can safely allow more interpersonal interaction in all our activities. Child and Youth's main priority is to enable mission essential personnel to carry out their mission responsibilities. We are consistently re-assessing our capabilities and hope to be able to care for more children very soon. Please stay tuned to the SLD 30 app and 30 FSS updates for more changes.


Other / Misc:

Q: Why are we having barbers on base even if the state is closed down?

A: The purpose of continuing barber services is to maintain an image of military professionalism for uniformed service members as they observe recommended health protective measures. For the services that are provided, all members are taking the appropriate precautions such as minimizing the amount of people in the space at a time and using protective face covers.

Current as of October 14, 2021