MHAFB Task Force, Working Group leads fight against COVID-19
By Airman 1st Class Gary Hilton, 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 18, 2020
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- The fight against the COVID-19 pandemic has seemingly evolved from a battle to a war, as it continues its offense longer than anticipated.
As defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 is a new strand of the coronavirus, making it a difficult adversary.
Using Gunfighter’s innovative skills by nature to fight this complex virus, the 366th Fighter Wing Commander, Col. Rick Goodman, employed a COVID-19 Task Force (CTF) and COVID-19 Working Group (CWG) to help slow the spread of the current pandemic.
The CTF has several duties it's tasked with, such as providing recommendations for wing and squadron leadership consideration, which is based on observation and information analysis, contact tracing efforts and identifying unknown gaps/risks among the base populous.
To support these duties, the CWG and CTF work together by establishing and implementing focused lines of effort, boosting the wing’s COVID prevention capabilities.
“The Task Force’s purpose is to identify any trends or blind spots and develop countermeasures,” said Master Sgt. Pearl Alomar, 366th Force Support Squadron military personnel flight superintendent. “We are focusing on these lines of effort to continue to improve the lives of Airmen and adapt to this 'new norm.'”
The two lines of effort Alomar highlighted are child care, and community outreach – both of which posed challenges according to survey results.
Although connected in cause, each challenge is unique in terms of how the CTF responds. For example, providing child care services requires extensive health safety, logistical and multi-agency coordination to ensure children are in a safe learning environment and parents are comfortable with the health safety measures. Because of this, the CTF depends on the ability of the CWG to figure out how to respond.
“One of the things that the working group did was provide an increase in child care services,” Alomar said. “We now have four child care providers. Originally, we had only two.”
Along with child care assistance, the CWG continues to provide more opportunities for Airmen who aren't able to participate in certain events on base.
To boost community morale and get solitary Airmen out of the dorms, the CWG created a multitude of community events, including a recent Even Pulse performance stress management training, which garnered more than 70 participants.
“We’ve also teamed up with the 124th Fighter Wing command team at Gowen Field to set up more events for the Boise residents,” Alomar said.
With events planned and resources distributed, the 366th FW’s present existence with COVID -19 has been addressed with maximum effort. However, the CTF and CWG don’t halt their endeavors with just the present - they also look towards the future.
“From the beginning, guidelines have been very confusing, and have changed rapidly,” said Capt. Sean White, 366th FW CTF officer-in-charge. “One of the big things we’ve done is understand and synthesize COVID travel and mitigation guidance from various U.S. Air Force, Department of Defense and public health authorities.”
The CTF, in concert with the Public Health emergency officer, can use outbreak observation and investigation data to mitigate similar occurrences in the future.
“Say a specific squadron experiences an outbreak,” White said. “The MTF can gather the details of who contracted the virus, and the CTF can investigate further as to what could have been prevented.”
Developing a COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan is currently one of the CTF’s highest priorities. Though the future remains uncertain, members of the CTF ensure confidence and continue to lead the fight against COVID-19.
“We will get through this together, Gunfighter strong,” Goodman said.