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COVID-19 FAQS // 30 March 2020

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Coronavirus Disease 2019 Graphic. (U.S. Air Force Graphic by Rosario "Charo" Gutierrez)

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. --
 
JB MDL COVID-19 FAQs (as of 30 March)
 
 
Q: Why did the base restrict access to the retirees and veterans?
A: In an effort to minimize health risks associated with COVID-19, the Joint Base Installation Commander has limited retirees and veterans access on base, in line with the NJ Stay-At-Home Order and the JB MDL Public Health Emergency Declaration. This decision was made to best mitigate the risk, threat and spread of COVID-19 with a two-fold focus: 1) To minimize the spread and exposure from outside members to our essential base personnel to protect mission sustainment and 2) to further mitigate risks. People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus. The World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus. For example, follow good hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, and social distancing measures.
 
Q: What are the adjusted pharmacy hours? 
A: The Pharmacy is open 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. (Monday – Friday). As an additional service to our beneficiaries impacted by base access restrictions, the Pharmacy will provide refill pick-up services only to retirees, Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. Please call 609-754-9470 or go to Tricare Online (www.tricareonline.com) to request a refill. 
 
Q: I have an appointment on base. How do I know if it’s cancelled? 
A: The Medical Group is making every effort to honor currently-scheduled appointments. In accordance with CDC recommendations, we are maximizing the use of virtual appointments and phone consultations for as many of our patients as possible. Unless a member from the clinic notifies you otherwise, your in-person appointment has not been cancelled. You can also check the status of your appointment at tricareonline.com. Please ensure your contact information is current and you have a working voicemail set up. Please call 1-866-DRS-APPT (1-866-377-2778) if you have any questions about your appointments. 
   
Q: I’m a retiree with a PCM on base. Can I come to my appointment?
A: Retirees enrolled to the Medical Group who have medical appointments will be authorized access to the installation only for their appointment. We are maximizing the use of virtual appointments and telephone consultations for as many of our patients as possible, so in-person visits will not be required in many cases. Please call 1-866-DRS-APPT (1-866-377-2778) if you have any questions about your appointments. 
 
Q. If I am a retiree who lives on the base or are an essential personnel DOD civilian with base access, am I allowed to shop at the Commissary or Exchange on the weekdays, or just Saturday?
A: You are allowed to shop during the week if you already have base access as a designated essential personnel or as an on-base housing resident. 
 
Q: I'm a patient at the family medicine clinic, a medically retired vet, and have a PCM on base.  I would like to message him directly about refilling one of my medications.
A: You can contact your Primary Care Manager (PCM) through Secure Messaging at www.tricareonline.com (TOL). This site also allows you to request medication refills, view your health records, make appointments, and contact the Nurse Advice Line.  You may also request to leave a message with your PCM by contacting the Medical Group Appointment Line at 1-866-DRS-APPT (1-866-377-2778).
 
Q: I have hand carry scripts, do I need to call first to schedule a time to come in and fill?
A: Please have your physician/clinic send the prescription to our Pharmacy as an electronically (e) Rx. If they have questions about this process, they can reach our Pharmacy team at 609-754-9470 (option #4). For new controlled prescriptions, beneficiaries should utilize Tricare Mail Order/home delivery or retail pharmacies. Hard copy prescriptions are not recommended at this time. There is a link on the Joint Base website, Coronavirus site labeled TRICARE PHARMACY INFO on the left-hand side if you have more questions. 
 
Q: What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?
A: If you are sick, please stay at home. For a large percentage of the population who contract COVID-19, they experience mild cold/flu-like symptoms. As a measure of caution to decrease risk of transmission to others, we recommend you remain at home even if your symptoms are minor. If you have concerns, you may call the COVID-19 Hotline at 609-754-9050 (Monday through Friday during normal duty hours). After hours, please call the Nurse Advice Line at 1-800-874-2273. 
 
Q: I was tested off-base. Now what? 
A: Notify your chain of command that you were tested, and update them with the results ASAP. You can also call the COVID-19 Hotline at 609-754-9050 during normal duty hours for questions.  
 
Q: What precautions should I be taking? 
A: JB MDL highly encourages everyone to follow the guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC officials recommend getting an influenza vaccine and taking everyday preventive actions to help preclude the spread of germs. All personnel and their families should continue to practice proper hygiene as the best way to prevent the spread of viruses. This includes washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Also, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands and avoid close contact with those who are sick. Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects also reduces contamination and spread of the virus. Finally, ensure social distancing, which means that you maintain a distance of six feet from other individuals and avoid gatherings. 
 
Q: I had a member travel out of the country. How do I get them on the quarantine list?
A: As a matter of precaution, members returning from overseas duties from affected regions should contact their chain of command and Public Health at the COVID-19 Hotline at 609-754-9050.
 
Q: Will CDC 1 remain operational, and if so, what safety/preventative measures are in place to protect the staff?
A: Extra cleaning measures were enacted last week and a screening process was established this week, which is on top of existing guidelines for when a child or staff are sick. CDC1 closed 27 March as a result of increased risk and likely community spread in the surrounding community. 
 
Q: Will those who paid for CDC services in advance be getting a refund for the services they aren’t using?
A: If parents kept their children home to fully achieve proper social distancing, or if parents are unable to use child care due to circumstances related to COVID-19, children will not lose their space. For those parents who were already charged, they will receive a credit. In addition, 1 April billing will be paused for children who are currently not in attendance.
 
Q: I’m a disabled veteran and my spouse/care-giver does all my errands, grocery shopping, etc. Can they get on base and shop for me?
A: Yes. Make sure you have your ID. As of right now, access to the Exchange and Commissary is only allowed on Saturdays for veterans and retirees who are not base residents.
 
Q: What are the commissary hours?
A: Early bird shopping has been suspended until further notice, and the commissary is conducting 100 percent ID checks upon entrance. Veterans and retirees living off-base will only have access on Saturdays.
 
McGuire/Dix Commissary Hours:
Monday - Saturday: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. 
Sunday:  10 a.m.-7 p.m.
 
Lakehurst Commissary Hours: 
Closed Sunday - Monday 
Tuesday 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Wednesday - Friday 10 - 6 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. 
 
Q: Will you use decontamination measures in the base shopping areas to disinfect shopping carts and other surfaces/services?
A: The commissary is following the highest standards of the Department of Defense’s health protection in their stores, which includes wiping down checkout areas, restrooms and shopping carts, routine hand washing and other basic sanitation measures to avoid spreading germs. Employees are closely monitoring their health and well-being, and asking them to stay home if they, or someone in their household, are sick. 
 
Q: What is the protocol if someone has possible symptoms in an office area?
A: If the person in your office is showing actual symptoms of COVID-19, you should have them call COVID-19 Hotline: 609-754-9050 to determine their ability to work in that area. Just like non-COVID-19 situations, someone that is sick should be taking precautions to avoid getting others sick.
 
Q: Where can we get the most up-to-date information?
A: For all base-related information, please visit our official website: https://www.jbmdl.jb.mil/Coronavirus/, Our Facebook page (Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst), and the JBMDL app. These are great places to get quick, up-to-date information. For information regarding COVID-19, please visit the website for the Center for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
 
Q: What is leadership doing to mitigate risks across the base?
A: Across JB MDL, many in-person meetings have been moved to digital, we’ve 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. Leadership is closely monitoring the effects of COVID-19 on JB MDL and the community, as this is an evolving situation. Effective 17 March, a Public Health Emergency was declared for the joint base for 30 days. Effective 18 March, the base assumed Essential Personnel only status until 15 April, in line with state and county declarations. Effective 21 March, the base is in Health Protection Condition Charlie. Also, effective 23 March, there were restrictions announced limiting certain categories of DOD ID cardholders to Saturday access only (with limited exceptions).
 
Q. Can you put out a listing of where positive case people have been on the installation?
A. Public Health is conducting detailed and thorough contact tracing for all members testing positive for COVID-19 and they are directly notifying individuals determined to be at increased risk.  Public Health, in line with public health authorities across the country, do not announce specific areas where someone may have been unless there is an increased risk of virus transmission. We understand some may want to know every location someone who tests positive might have been, but location itself doesn’t translate to risk to others.  The virus is increasingly present in the local area and there is growing community transmission, so we encourage everyone to avoid a false sense of knowledge regarding exactly where the virus is and isn’t present. All members of our community should have a heightened sense of caution and practice strict social distancing and personal hygiene measures.  Continue to follow CDC guidance to protect yourself and others: wash your hands properly and often, use hand sanitizer, stay home when sick, maintain social distancing (6-foot separation as a general rule), avoid touching your face, and follow the NJ Stay-at-Home order. These measures, if employed consistently, are most effective at reducing your risk of getting COVID-19.
 
Q: Can we get 24 hour access gym membership back for the essential personnel?
A: The gym is closed, including 24 hour access for the health and safety of the fitness staff, our service members and their families. Joint Base Leadership will continue to assess when it’s appropriate to reopen the facility, in consultation with the Public Health Team.
 
Q: Will you use decontamination measures in base shopping areas (BX, Commissary, Shoppettes). To treat shopping carts and other surfaces/services?
A: The commissaries, exchanges, shoppettes and gas stations have disinfectant products available for patrons to use. In addition, please practice good hygiene when shopping/filling up with gas, wash your hands before and after, and use hand sanitizer that’s at least 60% alcohol. 
 
Q: Is the exchange staying open?
A: Yes, as of 25 March. Refer to the stoplight chart posted on the JBMDL website, JBMDL app, and official Facebook page. This chart is updated regularly and has the most current hours for on-base services.
 
Q: Do we need a letter to get on base? I work at the exchange.
A: No. Please contact your supervisor if you have more questions or concerns. 
 
Q: If we have very young kids and are mission essential. Should we fear bringing home the virus to our children? 
A: Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, disinfect commonly touched items and areas, stay home if you are sick. If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, call the hotline at 609-754-9050. 
 
Q: Where can we be tested?
A: If you are experiencing symptoms, call the COVID-19 Hotline at 609-754-9050 during duty hours. If it’s after hours or the weekend, call the Nurse Advice Line (NAL) 1-800-TRICARE / 888-901-7144 or your local urgent care.   
 
Q: Is there a possibility of closing base down completely? And you must have a note saying you’re essential?
A: There has been no decision to completely close the base, but additional steps to further restrict access are possible. We are not yet at the point of maintaining essential personnel lists to verify at the gate. Unit commanders/directors are deciding what personnel fit the requirement of essential personnel.
 
Q: Are there any local charities that need financial donations?
A: Yes, but the joint base will not endorse specific charities. We can state that both the American Red Cross and USO are on the base and providing support.
 
Q: How are you helping the senior citizens get all this info when they don’t have access to FB or the internet? How will you notify retirees if they are not on social media platforms?
A: We are working with the retirees office on base and local military support groups to help us reach those who may not be connected to social media.
 
Q: Is there a possibility that we will be able to go back to work earlier than 15 April or is there a possibility it will be extended?
A: As of right now, Joint Base Leadership has not extended the Essential Personnel only reporting status past 15 April, but they are working with the Public Health team and assessing higher headquarters guidance to determine if an extension in needed. Many personnel are currently continuing to work via telework until the installation re-opens for all personnel to physically report for duty.
 
Q:  I know some people (civilians) working on base. Will work continue?
A: The mission of the base continues and many have shifted to telework. The base remains essential personnel only. A civilian’s reporting status is determined by their chain of command.
 
Q: Can you help the people on base that have no supplies, because there is not enough? 
A: Commissaries and exchanges are doing the best they can to stock the shelves. If on base stores do not have the specific items you are looking for, we’d recommend other area grocery stores or online purchases.
 
Q: What if we need lab work? What is the process for off-base care?
A: The lab is still open on base. Please call the 87th Medical Group at (866-DRS-APPT/377-2778) for more specific questions. Or contact TRICARE. 
 
Q: Are we supposed to be utilizing the parks and common areas as of today?
A: Please stay at home to the maximum extent possible in accordance with NJ Stay-At-Home Order and the JB MDL Public Health Emergency Declaration. Follow social distancing protocols and avoid public places and gatherings. COVID-19 can remain on surfaces in these areas for a variety of times, including up to two days on steel surfaces. 
 
Q: Are you supplying masks to the airmen/soldiers while they’re working?
A: Masks are for those who are experiencing symptoms and medical professionals. Service members are following CDC guidelines on preventative health measures, such as social distancing, washing their hands, and not touching their face. 
 
Q. What do I do if I get tested off base and my results are positive for COVID-19?
A. Immediately contact the JB MDL COVID-19 Hotline at 609-754-9050 to alert the 87th Medical Group of your diagnosis, and be prepared for contact tracing procedures. You will then be given further instructions in accordance with CDC guidelines to ensure the health and safety of you and those around you. 
 
Q. I heard the base has established a quarantine and isolation facility on base? Is this true?
A. The base has designated two of our lodging facilities on base to lodge those unable to quarantine or isolate themselves on or off base. This is mainly for personnel arriving from locations requiring quarantine unable to self-quarantine at home, single military members who would normally enter on-base dorms and those attending essential pre-deployment courses requiring a 14-day quarantine. The base and effected units have established wrap-around services to ensure any individuals quarantined have the essentials needed throughout the quarantine/isolation period.