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Changes to 50-mile rule

PLUS: services opening on base and more

Although American Lake opens Saturday for fishing, kayaking and recreation, rentals such as these boats are not available. Photo credit: JBLM MWR

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A few more services and recreation opportunities will open this Saturday for local military, Lt. Gen. Randy George told a town hall audience via Facebook, Tuesday.

Additional information was shared by the command Wednesday morning during the monthly Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) town hall carried virtually via Facebook.

At JBLM, military personnel will be allowed to travel beyond the current 50-mile radius to base restriction imposed in March to visit state and national parks only. No overnight stays are allowed, George said. Personnel must continue to follow state social distancing rules when at those parks.

Other services to open starting Saturday include American Lake for fishing, kayaking and recreation; however, MWR will not have rentals available. The McChord Auto Shop will also open for active-duty only. The Northwest Adventure Center should open in a couple weeks, George said.

George said the number of COVID-19 cases on base have continued to "significantly" drop this week. While Gov. Jay Inslee, last week, extended the current shelter-in-place restrictions until May 31, George said he will do his best to maintain the same; however, there will be a "gradual pick up of the training pace." To those ends, units and services at CIF and Waller Hall will transition from minimum-essential to mission-essential, bringing on another 10 percent of the total force currently sheltering in place at home. This will bring the day-to-day force on base to 35 to 45 percent.

"You should expect a call from your command to come into work," George added.

George said he'll likely open other services and programs such as gyms and sit-down restaurant service in tandem with Inslee's announced phases. Those are here:

George said personnel required to make that leap back to work will hear from their commands. These will mostly be for maintenance and supply needs, military police, weapons qualifications and other individual and team readiness. Child care will also re-open for those personnel coming on board. Slots are guaranteed if you were in CDC before the closings; however, with less children allowed at any one time, as stated last week, your child may be assigned to a different CDC. 

Starting May 8, CDCs won't provide any additional space for minimum mission-essential personnel if they haven't already been in care, which gives time for Child and Youth Services to assess capacity to offer care to mission-essential patrons who were in care pre-COVID-19.

Mask coverings will not be required for most children; however, some older children might wear masks -- individual care centers will update parents.

In other news discussed at Tuesday's Facebook Live event:

  • Madigan is looking at visitor issues; however, at this time, it is still limited. Spouses cannot attend OBGYN appointments, for example. Madigan also expects to start antibody testing near the start of June. Elective surgeries have started for those already scheduled prior to COVID-19 at a slow open beginning this week. Madigan will contact patients. 
  • George said he doubts there will be any summer camps for kids in June, but officials are still looking at possibilities later in the summer.
  • Col. Skye Duncan, garrison commander, said they are looking to re-open the library in the next couple weeks if approved by medical experts.
  • George said the DENTAC commander is looking to get the dental clinics back open next month, but they are currently seeing acute cases.
  • Just because PCS dates are after the current June 30 stop move date, doesn't mean they will all happen on time. There are no official announcements yet. George said he is reviewing exception to policies for specific PCS moves daily.
  • The Clarkdale Duplexes will start receiving their fences in 2021 or 2022, Duncan said. Homeowners can bring in a temporary fence at their own expense if approved with Lincoln.
  • As for the recycling pickups, Duncan said the base is dependent on an outside contractor, and until Washington state opens its recycling centers, pickup won't commence.
  • Eagles Pride and Whispering Firs Golf Courses are both open; however there is no golf cart or other equipment rentals available. Golfers must walk and limit group sizes. The driving range is closed.
  • The Religious support and Family Life Counseling Center will open May 11 for groups consisting of 10 persons or less.

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