Fort Riley leaders expect to keep tight restrictions on soldiers and families for the near future, including banning nighttime visits to Aggieville.
Col. William McKannay, Fort Riley garrison commander, said Monday that other restrictions included barring nonessential social gatherings inside on-post housing, exercising in off-post gyms and dining at off-post restaurants and bars.
Aggieville is off limits from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., according to a Fort Riley order.
In a meeting with area media outlets, McKannay provided an update on Fort Riley affairs, including its addressing of COVID-19 and base housing improvement projects.
Leaders said most of the cases related to Fort Riley have involved mild symptoms. McKannay said leadership would implement further restrictions and mitigations, like reducing capacity or closing certain facilities, if they thought it was necessary.
McKannay didn’t provide the number of Fort Riley cases since the pandemic began.
As of Wednesday, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported Geary County had 2,389. The Geary County Health Department reported 1,270 cases on Tuesday for a difference of 1,119 cases.
KDHE numbers include Fort Riley and the health department numbers do not.
A Jan. 8 community letter from Fort Riley leaders said three civilian workers have died from COVID complications.
“We meet regularly, the commanding general (Maj. Gen. Douglas Sims), myself and the other commanders and directors on Fort Riley, to discuss these issues,” McKannay said. “We’re going to continue to take every action we feel is necessary to protect Fort Riley, our families and our surrounding communities.”
The commanding general’s latest order related to the coronavirus, which went into effect Jan. 8, include limitations to travel outside of a 150-mile radius unless approved by unit commanders and restricted movement upon returning.
The order also requires mask wearing inside public facilities on and off Fort Riley and prohibits working as a rideshare or delivery driver.
The order sets an 11 p.m. curfew at Fort Riley.
“These were difficult decisions for the commanding general, he does not want to keep those restrictions in place any longer than he has to,” McKannay said. “At this time, especially with the return from our holiday leave and going into a very busy training cycle with war fighter exercises, some deployments for some of our units departing Fort Riley or missions in support of the national defense, for the immediate near term future, we will be keeping those restrictions in place, but they are regularly assessed.”
McKannay said Fort Riley does not have specific numbers or benchmarks when deciding when or what restrictions to put in place, but it does look at updates from analysts and medical experts at Irwin Army Community hospital.
He said Fort Riley bases part of its decisions on whether the infection rate is rising and causes behind it, the total number of cases and increases in cases from specific behaviors or locations.
McKannay said the commander receives recommendations from his staff and other Fort Riley leaders before coming to a decision.
Fort Riley’s housing partner, Corvias, is well underway in its $60 million project to build new homes, renovate older homes and upgrade about 4,000 homes with energy-efficient additions.
It recently renovated 32 homes in the Rim Rock neighborhoods, and workers are constructing 96 new homes in the Warner-Peterson neighborhood.
The U.S. Department of Defense also is conducting a tenant satisfaction survey for resident feedback.
In addition, McKannay said the U.S. Army has invested more than $100 million in the last two fiscal years to renovate and upgrade barracks on post and likewise spent millions to renovate motor pools, child development centers and fitness centers.
The Warren Child Development Center, which was built in the early 1990s, is set to reopen later this year with increased capacity and newer, safer features, officials said.