Gulfport Seabee Base adds additional COVID protections

Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 7:00 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The Navy Change of Command ceremony to welcome Captain Jeffrey Deviney as commander of Naval Construction Group TWO on Thursday was shrouded in COVID protection protocols.

Everyone wore a mask and temperatures were taken before entering the theater that was mostly empty to allow for social distancing.

After the ceremony, Captain Deviney reflected on how the Delta variant of COVID has changed their world again.

“I think we all thought we were all out of the woods with COVID and now it’s back with a vengeance,” said Deviney. “And, we need to make sure we maintain the proper force health protection and ensure that our troops and their families and the surrounding communities are safe and able to accomplish their mission.”

Those protection protocols have come from the Department of Defense and the Navy.

“Last week we were ordered to put masks on by the Secretary of Defense,” said Capt. Jeff Powell, commander of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Center Gulfport. “This week, we were ordered back to HPCON Charlie because of the rise in cases, both in the local area and on base.”

HPCON Charlie is a more stringent Health Protection Condition level than the base has followed since April when the base was allowed to relax its rules.

The Seabee base in Gulfport is one of 12 bases in the Southeast to increase protections this week.

The biggest change for increased protection affects those service members who are unvaccinated.

“If you are not immunized, and now that we are back on HPCOM Charlie, you are now restricted from non-essential shopping,” said Powell. “You can not go out to eat, you can’t dine in restaurants, you can’t go to gyms, you can’t go to barber shops but you can do all those things that are on base.”

Powell said about half of the people on base are immunized and that number has increased slightly as the Delta variant spreads.

“Inherent in the Navy’s rules, there are incentives to be vaccinated,” said Powell. “We encourage everybody to do that. They work and it’s the only way we’re going to get through this.”

Deviney said more vaccinations need to be the rule across all of his commands.

“I think that’s job one because unless you do that, you won’t be able to actually launch troops and build things,” said Deviney.

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