KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
The 403rd Wing March 13-14 Unit Training Assembly has been designated as mission essential plus here.
“Thanks to all of our Airmen adhering to the COVID protocols of mask wearing, screening, social distancing, sanitizing, and now getting immunized,” said Col. Jeffrey A. Van Dootingh, 403rd Wing commander. “Due to your efforts, our COVID numbers have been very low and continue to drop. While we must continue to adhere to all COVID protocols, I’m pleased to announce that we are able to reduce some restrictions.”
Mission essential plus is based on factors of the current downward COVID trend, latest Public Health Emergency Order, Health Protection Condition, and COVID immunizations.
Aside from mission essential personnel physically attending the upcoming UTA, the ‘plus’ allows the following, but not limited to, Airmen to attend in person:
- Any Airmen needing an immunization
- Any Airmen needing an annual physical exam
- Any Airmen with an overdue OPR/EPR
- Any unit safety representatives with an overdue report to wing safety
- Any self-assessment program managers with overdue checklists
- Any Airmen with readiness training due
- Any Airmen that has individual unit requirements
“The plus is robust, meaning unit commanders have the authority to basically bring in any Airmen that have anything due,” said Van Dootingh. “From medical to readiness training, finance, OPRs, EPRs, dental exams and more to knock out as many items as we can.”
Airmen who attend the UTA must comply with base security and health protection requirements. Keesler is currently in Health Protection Condition Bravo. On Feb. 18, the 81st Training Wing Commander Col. Heather W. Blackwell published an updated Public Health Emergency Order, with the major change increasing official and unofficial mission and service-essential activities and gatherings from 10 people to 25. Per Department of Defense guidance, face coverings are required when individuals cannot maintain six feet of physical distance in public areas or work centers.
Members may dine in at off-base restaurants. Military members are prohibited from attending bars and nightclubs.
As of Jan. 1, there are also new UTA dining hours. The Azalea Dining facility will allow up to 50% capacity for dining inside and will be open for takeout with breakfast from 6-9 a.m., lunch from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., and dinner from 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Units will still perform COVID screenings during UTA sign-in. Wing buildings may utilize more than one entrance provided that there is hand sanitizer available, and unit members should practice strict hygiene, such as no hand-shaking and proper hand washing, social distancing and taking appropriate actions if sick.
If a wing member starts to feel ill during the UTA, they should not go to the 403rd Aeromedical Staging Squadron, but either go to the Keesler Medical Center or a physician of their choice such as an Urgent Care, he added. Reservists may also use the Keesler Medical Center drive-up COVID Clinic. The hours are 7 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, and closed Sunday.
“The goal is to have everyone back in person for the April UTA, depending on COVID trends,” said Van Dootingh.
For more information, visit the 403rd Wing Website www.403wg.afrc.af.mil, the wing’s Air Force Connect App, the Keesler AFB Health page at www.keesler.af.mil/Health, or contact respective unit leadership.