Led by III Corps and Fort Hood Deputy Commanding General Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, Fort Hood is hosting a virtual town hall at 9 a.m. today, addressing community concerns over the national emergency declared Friday by the president due to the COVID-19 virus.

Originally set as a town hall event at the Community Events Center for Fort Hood housing residents to discuss their concerns, the focus of the forum has shifted in light of recent events. Fort Hood Garrison Commander Col. Jason Wesbrock will still provide an update on the housing situation, and take questions regarding Fort Hood housing, if posed.

Also joining Efflandt for the town hall event is Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center Commander Col. Richard Malish, who will provide an update on the current state of the coronavirus situation and its impact at Fort Hood.

The virtual town hall can be viewed at www.facebook.com/forthood. It is expected to last one hour.

The town hall today is one of a series of events Fort Hood has been conducting, and will continue to conduct, to ensure it is prepared to handle any eventuality while keeping the military community informed.

Post officials held a table-top exercise focused on potential pandemic responses at the III Corps and Fort Hood Headquarters March 11. The exercise incorporated community partners to enhance cooperation and coordination efforts.

“As we say in the Army, ‘perception is reality,’” Efflandt told participants, “and so the reason I’m bringing everybody in here, again, it’s not a check on your capabilities. It’s because I think we need each other’s help. What I hope comes out of this is people feel comfortable talking about the larger plan and feel comfortable about where to refer people to get more information, because we are going to be completely transparent.”

Fort Hood is planning another COVID-19 exercise, on a larger scale, for March 25.

Tuesday evening, Efflandt provided a COVID-19 update on the installation’s Facebook and Twitter platforms, alluding to the closure of some facilities and “making changes in how we operate others.

“All these measures are anchored in the expert advice provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and based on the threat level here at Fort Hood,” the general said.

A full list of the closures and reduction of services is listed below, and likewise, were posted on the installation’s social media platforms Wednesday.

In addition, on Wednesday morning a III Corps operation order directsed commanders to implement a change to the local leave policy, which immediately restricts local leave to within a 60-mile radius of the installation.

In the wake of President Donald Trump announcing the national state of emergency, senior Army leaders delivered a message to the troops and their families via social media Friday.

Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, Army Chief of Staff James McConville and Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston sent out a signed letter to the Army family entitled, “The Army’s Commitment to Health Protection,” which discussed scaling back some exercises while reaffirming the Army’s care and concern for the well-being of the force.

“The Army Staff will continue to evaluate current day-to-day operations and monitor the force to ensure we are doing everything we can to mitigate the threat (from COVID-19),” the leaders wrote.

The leaders also noted efforts by Army researchers to prevent, detect and eventually treat COVID-19.

“We have a tough road ahead of us, but we will prevail,” the Army senior leader letter concluded.

Locally on Friday, the first presumptive COVID-19 case in the surrounding community was announced by Bell County Public Health in Belton.

Fort Hood officials recommended at that time that all military, civilians, family members and visitors on post take appropriate action to protect themselves and others from contracting the COVID-19 virus.

In response to Bell County’s announcement Friday, Fort Hood directed all personnel to:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.

Cover your cough/sneeze with a tissue, then throw it in the trash; cough/sneeze into your elbow if tissues are unavailable.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

Ensure all immunizations are up to date, including your seasonal flu shot.

Stay home if you are sick, and avoid close contact with Family members and pets.

Create an emergency preparedness kit.

Create a pet disaster preparedness kit.

Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

If you are sick, call your medical provider for instructions on receiving care before going to the clinic.

Stay informed by routinely checking reliable sources of information such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and your local public health agencies.

Additional information on preventive measures can be found on the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center website at: https://crdamc.amedd.army.mil. A hotline is also available 24/7 for Fort Hood Soldiers, their families and those who receive medical support from the military to answer COVID-19 questions at 254-553-6612.

In closing his remarks Tuesday evening, Efflandt told the Fort Hood community, “Our protection starts with you.

“The Phantom Warrior team is not limited to those in uniform,” he said, “we are all Phantom Warriors and together, we make the Great Place.”