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Fort Leonard Wood Asks For Help To Enforce Social Distancing

Provided photo from Fort Leonard Wood, taken April 2020
Fort Leonard Wood
Face coverings and hand-washing stations are now part of field training at Fort Leonard Wood. Leaders there want soldiers' and civilians' help in making sure everyone follows those rules.

Unlike other areas of Missouri where health officials believe the peak of coronavirus passed more than a week ago, Fort Leonard Wood has yet to see the worst, post leaders say. And they are asking for help to make sure people follow the rules.

According to the latest data, the virus may continue to spread at Fort Leonard Wood, Maj. Gen. Donna Martin said.

“The trend of cases, community spread and community testing in our region do not indicate that we are on a downward slope or side of this curve,” Martin said.

Fort Leonard Wood is requiring soldiers and civilians to wear face masks and practice social distancing. Commanders also are asking everyone to help make sure guidelines are followed.

“If you see someone standing at Starbucks not wearing a face covering, politely go up and ask them to fix themselves,” Sgt. Maj. James Breckenridge said. “And if they don’t comply, get a name, get a description, and let us know so we can take care of that one individual.”

Martin has said the Army will use all of its disciplinary and legal power to enforce any directive, including coronavirus-related orders.

Pulaski County, home of Fort Leonard Wood, has had more than 30 cases of coronavirus and one death, far fewer than most rural counties that have case counts in the single digits. Department of Defense rules do not allow military installations to disclose how many cases they have on post.

Martin said she is carefully looking at what the state and adjacent local governments are doing in terms of reopening businesses and relaxing rules. But she said those won’t always work for a large military installation.

“Our controls may be different than outside our gates, because our situation, with people coming from across the United States, our health care beneficiaries, and our mission are different,” Martin said.

Martin has extended Fort Leonard Wood’s emergency health declaration until May 24.

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Jonathan Ahl is the Newscast Editor and Rolla correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.