Friday, March 13, 2020
Marines, Sailors, Families, and Civilians,
In light of the continuing spread of COVID-19 and the increasing force health protection threat that it poses, I want to pass along important information to you and your families to ensure that you are well informed.
First and foremost, the safety and health of you and your families is my highest priority. The command has implemented risk mitigation measures as precautions against spreading and contracting respiratory illnesses. That is why I am passing this information via email and not at a unit formation or other large gathering.
The Secretary of Defense recently published guidance which implements DOD wide travel restrictions. These restrictions are intended to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 within our military community.
What does this mean to the members of MARFOREUR/AF? Beginning today, 13 March and for the next 60 days all government funded travel, with some limited exceptions, will stop. This includes TAD and PCS, but does not apply to EAS or Retiring Marines. Additionally, this restriction applies to military personnel for all non-official travel such as leave.
There are three important points I want to make:
1. If one of our command members is presently TAD, we will take action to ensure, where practical and consistent with the guidance we have received, that they can return back to Stuttgart as soon as possible.
2. If one of our command families is scheduled to PCS in the next 60 days, we will work with you and Headquarters Marine Corps to resolve any issues arising from this travel restriction.
3. The leave restriction only applies to uniformed service members, not to civilian family members. We do ask our civilians to help us keep our greater MARFOREUR/AF and Stuttgart Military Community safe by not taking unnecessary travel. Keep in mind, individual countries are establishing their own travel restrictions that may differ from U.S. guidance and could be enforced upon entry. We expect further travel guidance from EUCOM in the near future.
In addition to the travel restrictions, there are several simple yet extremely effective health safety measures that I need you to take. Wash your hands frequently. If hand washing facilities are not available hand sanitizer is recommended. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and face. Exercise social distancing practices such as maintaining 1 meter distance away from others and not shaking hands. If you feel any cold or flu like symptoms (fever and a cough) IMMEDIATELY let your supervisor know. Do not come into work and be prepared to stay at home. Ensure your household can sustain your family for a 14 day period. Further health information related to COVID-19 can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. The US Army Garrison – Stuttgart is also a current source of information for garrison updates, cancellations, and closures (https://home.army.mil/stuttgart/index.php/directorates-Support/public-affairs/coronavirus-covid-19).
The spread of COVID-19 and the guidance from the Secretary of Defense obviously impacts all of us. Again, our goal is to keep our MARFOREUR/AF family as safe and healthy as possible. The command will continue to assess the situation in accordance with guidance from our higher headquarters. As the situation continues to evolve I will continue to keep you informed of further steps we may take in the interest of safety. To the extent that guidance in this email or attachments presents unanswered questions, please forward those questions through your chain of command and we will ensure that you receive a timely and accurate answer. Attached is a summary of additional COVID-19 information and additional references.
I re-emphasize that this is an evolving situation, and that amplifying guidance will follow. While this is impacting everyone both personally and professionally, rest assured that the individual health of all is paramount. As relayed in separate correspondence, we have implemented a telecommute policy and have taken other steps to address this evolving situation. Collectively we will get through this. Lastly, thanks to all who have taken action on behalf of the team. The proactive and caring nature of the entire team at MARFOREUR/AF continues to exhibit itself on a daily basis. I’m honored and proud to serve alongside of all of you. Updates to follow.
Should you have any questions
please send them directly to MARFOREURAFCOMMANDCENTER@usmc.mil.
Thank you and Semper Fidelis,
MajGen Patrick J. Hermesmann, USMC
Commander, U.S. Marine Forces Europe/Africa