At the weekly Fort Riley virtual COVID-19 Town Hall update April 29 at Riley’s Community Center, representatives from the 1st Infantry Division, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Riley and Irwin Army Community Hospital, talked to audience members about conditions on the installation.

Col. Kevin Lambert, 1st Infantry Division chief of staff praised the community for helping to curb the pandemic.

He updated the public on the number of new cases outside the installation.

“Just within 100 miles of Fort Riley, we’ve experienced 29 new cases in the last 24 hours and 179 cases across the State of Kansas,” he said. “So, everyone must continue to adhere to the restrictions in place as we enter this new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

While the number of cases, if any, on Fort Riley is unknown due to operational security, said Steve Elstrom, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Riley, Public Affairs director. The statistics for service members are reported to state and local health departments in accordance with state law.

Fort Riley has avoided a wide-scale outbreak due to the procedures put in place through a protect, prevent and preserve initiative. A video on the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service, www.dvidshub.net/video/749018, goes into detail about 1st Infantry Division’s response to COVID-19 with this initiative.

In addition, they answered questions from the public over topics such as reopening facilities and the closure of the Forsyth Express due to an employee testing positive for the virus.

“We did have the Forsyth Shoppette down on Trooper drive that we closed as of Tuesday (April 21), out of an abundance of caution as an employee came down feeling sick and that supervisor sent the employee home,” said Col. Stephen Shrader, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Riley commander. “That employee subsequently tested positive and we shut the facility down to make sure that we did not introduce anyone on the installation to any further potential virus instances.”

He said due to no other employees having symptoms, the facility was reopened April 29 with a new crew.

A viewer during the live stream posted a question about the seemingly hasty reopening of on post facilities.

“As we look to reopening, we’re going to wait and make sure that we understand Governor (Laura) Kelly’s updated reopening framework and guidance that she is empowering local leaders with,” Lambert said. “That will first and foremost inform how we go about reopening and I want to make sure folks understand that it will be a slow return to a new normal.”

He said in the coming days they will be creating new guidance to operate from to go in conjunction with the updated stay at home order received.

To view the video on Facebook visit, www.facebook.com/FortRiley/videos/273351853682335.

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