Coronavirus in Oklahoma: Tinker Air Force Base orders 1,800 employees back to work
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More than 1,800 workers are heading back to work at Tinker Air Force Base on Wednesday.
In the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Tinker’s Air Force Sustainment Center said it needed to recall 1,870 essential employees back to work.
“Our top priority at the Air Force Sustainment Center is to ensure the health and safety of our workforce while balancing mission readiness and our support to national security,” Tinker released in a statement. “Not only must we continue our unique contributions to the defense of our nation, we also have an important responsibility to protect the workforce and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
Tinker, the state's largest single-site employer, said a fourth positive case of COVID-19 was confirmed on Tuesday after an employee in the 76 Commodities Maintenance Group in building 9001 was a symptomatic member placed into quarantine.
The 72nd Medical Group said public health officials continue to trace the member’s recent movements and contacts.
The base remains in Health Protection Condition Charlie, maximizing use of teleworking, alternating shifts, various types of leave and practicing substantial social distancing to keep members safe. The number of employees working on base will change as circumstances do.
In a message to Air Force Sustainment Center employees on Friday, Commander Lt. Gen. Kirkland said the nation’s “warfighters depend on the readiness our Center generates” and that depots, air base wings, and supply chain wings remain ready and working.
“Every individual in the Air Force Sustainment Center is mission essential,” Kirkland wrote. “We cannot execute our responsibilities without you.”
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Air Force Sustainment Center said the personnel recalled to base from administrative leave were necessary to avoid “unacceptable mission impacts.”
“We will do our very best to continue adapting our processes,” the statement read. “Ensuring the safety of our Airmen remains the top priority while meeting our national defense mission requirements.”
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper issued the following in a letter on Tuesday.
“As we do our part to mitigate the effects of this pandemic, we must remain prepared to carry out our core national security missions. Our adversaries may look to exploit this crisis, as much of the world' s attention is directed toward the coronavirus.”