OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea -- COVID-19, also known as 2019 novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV, has altered many aspects of life at Osan AB, including advanced gate screening procedures, social distancing measures, alternate working locations, and many unseen decisions to prepare for every possible scenario.
When, on March 13, eight Airmen arrived to Osan on Air Mobility Command’s Patriot Express from Seattle, they were subject to additional public health screening and selected for restricted movement.
"Out of an abundance of caution the decision was made to quarantine and monitor these inbound personnel for a 14-day period,” said Col. Talib Ali, 51st Fighter Wing’s public health emergency officer. “Since these Airmen didn’t have home situations already established, we had to provide them with an environment that was safe for them and the community until they were cleared medically to continue traveling.”
Quarantine and isolation are known to potentially have a negative effect on the physical and mental health of Airmen, especially with the added stress of a permanent change of station.
Osan’s first sergeants, Airmen Dorm Leaders, and the American Red Cross took the lead in ensuring these Airmen have all of life’s essential comforts, to include safe human interaction and special treats donated from across the base.
“We understand this is going to be a tough time for our Airmen,” said Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Blair, 51st Civil Engineer Squadron first sergeant. “We need to give them some extra care and attention as they are making a great sacrifice for our community.”
Life in the quarantine dorms is taking its toll on the “Seattle 8,” but for them and others on restricted quarantine movement orders, this period is coming to an end soon.
“It obviously stinks being cooped up in a dorm room for two weeks,” said Staff Sgt. Jacob Clark, 51st Maintenance Squadron aircraft fuel systems mechanic, while in quarantine after returning from his mid-tour vacation.
Clark’s living facility on base was incompatible with required quarantine measures so he was moved into dedicated quarantine and isolation dorms. First sergeants and dorm leaders “have made this bearable” by giving him and the others some time outside for fresh air.