A Message From The MCIEAST Commanding General

16 Nov 2020 | Maj. Gen. J.D. Alford Marine Corps Installations East

To our installation communities:

Recent reports of alarming spikes in COVID-19 cases locally and nationwide are grim reminders our bases and stations are in for an exceptionally challenging period ahead. With the advent of colder weather and the holiday season approaching, each of us needs to take responsibility for ourselves and each other NOW to mitigate further spread of the virus.

Up to this point, our operational forces have been able to train while CDCs, schools, gyms, commissaries and exchanges remained open, due in large part to the painstaking work of our public health officials. Unfortunately, this sense of normalcy has gradually given way to a false sense of security, leading many of us to let our guard down which has sadly resulted in more infections that could have been prevented.

Contact tracing performed by Base Preventative Medicine has noted multiple instances of small group gatherings at training evolutions, classes, and break rooms where personnel did not adhere to the COVID-19 mitigation practices of Wear, Wash, and Wait. There have been numerous cases generated from house parties and other small gatherings resulting in dozens of days of isolation and quarantine for active duty, civilian workers, and family members. Additionally, there have been people who have gone to work sick while awaiting COVID testing results, only to find out they are positive and exposed a significant number of co-workers. Perhaps the most egregious examples are those personnel who forget to wear their masks in close quarters around colleagues at work, ignoring the fact that each of these individuals may have exposed themselves in other small gatherings or sporting events outside the workplace. While these examples of complacency are mostly isolated, it only takes one incident to bring down an entire unit.

If we want to avoid another wave of lockdowns and a potential return to HPCON CHARLIE, we cannot accept business as usual. We cannot get tired. It will take intrusive leadership at all levels. It requires brilliance in the basics--masks, social distancing, and hand washing—and the discipline to adhere to these simple protocols that have saved lives.

We often think we are a younger population that generally feels invulnerable to this disease, but 1/3 of our COVID cases are under 24, and 77% are under 49 years old.  Even more so, our casual approach to this disease can have fatal consequences for those high-risk groups among us, namely the elderly. So do the right thing every time, all the time.

Our nation is depending on us to be ready to fight tonight.

Take care of yourselves and each other. With your help, we will get through this.

Semper Fidelis,
Major General, U.S. Marine Corps