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Fort Sill Commander: 'I'm In No Rush' To Ease COVID Restrictions On Army Post

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A slide presented at Fort Sill's seventh virtual town hall event on Tuesday, May 5th, showing confirmed COVID-19 infections on the post and in surrounding communities.

Speaking on a livestream town hall, Fort Sill's seventh such event throughout the coronavirus crisis, Commanding General Kenneth Kamper said Tuesday that, as much as he might want to get back to normal on post, it just isn't time yet.

"I want to lift it as much as you want it lifted," Kamper said, in response to a question about when and whether Fort Sill leadership is considering ending a ban on travel outside a 60-mile radius from the installation. 

But, he added, it's too early, and data from nearby places confirm that.

"What I'm personally watching for in Oklahoma City," the closest major city to the post, "is a sustained flat curve," Kamper said. "I'm in no rush. As governments are easing restrictions and there's more movement of people, we're going to hold tight."

Kamper added that he's also concerned with the infection rate in the Dallas area, the second-closest major metropolitan area to Fort Sill. 

"We're turning civilians into soldiers," Kamper said. "COVID coming into Fort Sill because we prematurely reduced travel restrictions is a risk to us. So we're going to watch that very, very carefully."

Kamper said Army leadership has asked Fort Sill to continue training soldiers, and it's for that reason that strict measures, like the travel restriction, face covering requirements, and limiting family access to post, are so important.

Fort Sill has confirmed 24 cases of COVID-19 so far, with no deaths, Kamper said. 

"We're standing fast at 24. That's good news," Kamper said. 

According to a statement from a spokesperson, "Fort Sill has over 100,000 personnel that operate or live in the Lawton Fort Sill community," including "7,500 permanent party personnel assigned to Fort Sill and over 34k personnel [in training] through a multitude of schools like Basic Combat Training, Advance Individual Training for both Field Artillery and Air Defense, and officer training for Field Artillery and Air Defense."

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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