Fort Sill Says Trends Looking Good Following Basic Training 'COVID Pocket'

Sep 2, 2020

Officials at Fort Sill, the U.S. Army installation in Lawton, said a basic training outbreak of COVID-19 was to blame for a recent spike in Comanche County, but that trends are overall encouraging.

"Most of that spike was a COVID pocket here in our basic training population," said Commanding Gen. Kenneth Kamper during a virtual town hall on Tues., Aug. 25th. 

"They're all doing OK. They're just fine," Kamper said.

According to Fort Sill spokesperson Jessica Tackaberry, the cases were centered around trainees in the 434th Field Artillery Brigade.

"With the exception of a small few with cold-like symptoms, the majority of COVID-positive trainees exhibit no symptoms," Tackaberry said, noting that the installation has had a total of 409 "recovered" COVID-19 patients to date.

According to a slide displayed by Kamper, 292 cases of the virus were confirmed at Fort Sill between July 21st and Aug. 19th. Of those, 244, or 84%, were trainees, with the remainder made up of active duty service members and their families, and on-post civilian employees and their families.

Col. David Zinnante, who commands the Reynolds Army Health Clinic at the installation, said Wednesday that, one week later, the situation has improved.

"With the COVID pocket, there was only one direction we could go, and that was down," Zinnante said on a virtual town hall. "That pocket was very well-controlled."

Zinnante said the non-trainee population on the installation has seen a "significant dropoff" in cases since the implementation of a mask mandate in July. 

"We've got to continue to maintain our physical distancing, continue to utilize hand hygiene, washing your hands often, and, probably most importantly, continue to wear those masks to ensure that you are keeping yourself and your loved ones safe," Zinnante said.

Added Zinnante: "If we don't do that, we will certainly see another spike in the very near future."