CAMP ZAMA, Japan – Installation officials held the first virtual Community Information Exchange here on Friday to better inform community members on important updates across Camp Zama.
Maj. Gen. JB Vowell, commander of U.S. Army Japan, said the event, which was last held in-person before the pandemic, was about staying connected in a time when many have been disconnected.
“COVID has been a significant impact on all of us, our families, our friends, and our networks,” he said. “But I have been impressed every day with your resilience, your resolve and your commitment.
“Things like this will help us come together and make sure we understand that we’re still a community,” he added. “We’re in this together.”
Col. Tanya Peacock, commander of U.S. Army Medical Department Activity-Japan, reported a substantial decrease in COVID-19 cases recently on post and commended community members for practicing safety measures and getting vaccinated.
Due to an increased need last month, Camp Zama's BG Sams U.S. Army Health Clinic provided walkup testing at the rear of the building for symptomatic patients in order to provide separation from testing for asymptomatic patients.
Starting this week, the clinic will adjust its testing locations and processes to transition from walkup testing to provider-ordered testing for symptomatic patients, Peacock said.
While the clinic has not yet been authorized to provide COVID-19 boosters for children 5 to 11 years old, booster shots for those 12 and up are currently available. Clinic personnel plan to hold a Pfizer booster event Feb. 11 from 8 a.m. to noon at the Camp Zama Community Club, she said.
Totolua Ripley, store director for Camp Zama and Sagamihara Housing Area commissaries, addressed the shortages of grocery items as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
Ripley explained that COVID-19 continues to impact the ability for manufacturers and industry partners to meet the food supply demand.
“Ingredients and packaging materials are the most critical shortages causing production issues,” he said. Ripley added the Defense Commissary Agency “is working closely with manufacturers to keep the distribution pipeline to overseas commissaries a priority.”
He also mentioned the CLICK2GO website, DECA’s online ordering service that was rolled out to installations across Japan in September.
“If you haven’t tried the service, please go to commissaries.com and register,” he said. “It’s a great service and convenience for those who want to save time.”
Another briefer also made a pitch for the Zama Killer Katanas, the local roller derby team that welcomes all women 18 and up to join even if they don’t have skating experience.
In addition to players, the team is looking for skating and non-skating officials as well as volunteers. Those interested can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Col. Christopher Tomlinson, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, said he is hopeful that more events with the Japanese community will take place in the coming months.
Preparations are now underway for the annual Cherry Blossoms Festival, which is scheduled for March 26, he said.
Depending on conditions with the ongoing pandemic, he said he also expects to hold additional community briefings face-to-face in the future.
“Our goal is to be able to provide you information that will help you in your overall quality of life during your time in this wonderful country and on this outstanding installation,” Tomlinson said.