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WATERVLIET ARSENAL COVID-19 INFORMATION

INFORMATION AVAILABLE AS OF 7:30 a.m. December 13, 2021

ABOUT THIS SITE

This site is a collection of local and regional COVID-19 information and policy for personnel on the U.S. Army Watervliet Arsenal installation. Some of the information is static, meaning it does't change, such as the links to local, state and federal agencies. Information from the Watervliet Arsenal command is reflected by the as of date on the top of this site. This site is maintained by the WVA Public Affairs Officer.

This page contains information about the Army's response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) for all U.S. Army personnel – Soldiers and civilians – serving at Watervliet Arsenal.

CURRENT HPCON

The Army is taking precautionary measures to protect the health of the force and maintain operational readiness. We will continue to evaluate current day-to-day operations to ensure the safety of all of our Soldiers, family members and civilian personnel. We encourage all personnel to follow the guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vaccine Myths and Facts

For current COVID-19 vaccine myths and facts, watch this video which features U.S. Army medical experts addressing some of the most common questions about the COVID-19 to help dispel myths.

VACCINE LOCATORS

VACCINE ATTESTATION PROCESS

In accordance with the TACOM Commander’s Direction, on October 26, 2021, all WVA Civilian Personnel who are fully or partially vaccinated are required, no later than November 8, 2021, to attest to their vaccination status by completing DD Form 3175, DoD Civilian Employee Certification of Vaccination, which is currently available on milConnect in the manner stated below. Civilian personnel who are not vaccinated are encouraged to fill out the attestation form in the manner stated further below.

Employees - Fully or Partially Vaccinated:

  • First – Employees will show proof of vaccination to their immediate supervisor. The proof must legibly display the 4 data points to be verified by supervisors. Acceptable proof includes:
  1. A copy of the record of immunization from a health care provider or pharmacy;
  2. A copy of the COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card (CDC Form MLS-319813_r, published on September 3, 2020);
  3. A copy of medical records documenting the vaccination;
  4. A copy of immunization records from a public health or State immunization information system; or
  5. A copy of any other official documentation containing the data points required to be verified by the supervisor.
  • Second – The employee’s immediate supervisor will review the proof to verify that the information provided contains the following 4 data points:
  1. Type of vaccine administered;
  2. Number of doses received;
  3. Date(s) of administration; and
  4. Name of the health care professional(s) or clinic site(s) administering the vaccine(s).
  • Third – The supervisor will then return the proof of vaccination back to the employee. The supervisor will not retain a copy of the proof of vaccination at this time.
  • Fourth – The employee will then complete Section A of the DD Form 3175 on milConnect.

Employees – Not Vaccinated:

  • First, if you are planning to request an exemption, please email your intention to seek an exemption to the WVA Reasonable Accommodation Manager, Ray Anderson and copy your immediate supervisor on the email.
  • Second, fill out the attestation form, select block 3.d. Do not select block 3.e. at this time.
  • Guidance for submitting and processing requests is forthcoming. Exemption requests will be accepted for processing as soon as additional guidance is received. Once received, WVA will issue guidance to the workforce and will process requests accordingly. We encourage you to start the process by working with anyone you may need to assist you with your request, including healthcare professionals or religious leaders. No documents are required at this time.

Supervisors:

  • First, prior to 5 Nov 2021, supervisors must go into DCPDS to validate proper alignment of their employees in the system.
  • Second – When an employee shows their proof of vaccination, the employee’s immediate supervisor will review the proof to verify that the information provided contains the following 4 data points:
  1. Type of vaccine administered;
  2. Number of doses received;
  3. Date(s) of administration; and
  4. Name of the health care professional(s) or clinic site(s) administering the vaccine(s).

If the supervisor has concerns with the proof document provided and/or the any of the data included in the proof document, they will coordinate those concerns with the COVID Operations Officer

  • Third – The supervisor will then return the proof of vaccination back to the employee. The supervisor will not retain a copy of the proof of vaccination.
  • Fourth – The supervisor will then complete Section B of the employee’s DD Form 3175 on milConnect. Supervisors are expected to have access to their employees’ DD Form 3175 beginning on 7 Nov 2021. At that time, supervisors are required to complete Section B of the DD Form 3175 for each of their employees as soon as possible.

milConnect:

  • Employee completion and supervisory review of the DD Form 3175 are required to be completed in milConnect.
  • Assistance with signing into milConnect is available at: https://milconnect.dmdc.osd.mil/milconnect/public/faq/Contacts_and_Help-About_milConnect/SignIn.
  • In those rare cases where a CAC-enabled computer is not readily available, employees will complete a hard copy of DD Form 3175 to attest to their vaccination status. Supervisors will work directly with the COVID Operations Officer to execute this process manually and to ensure the information is properly safeguarded, and completed within the timelines outlined above.

Exceptions to the timelines in this document will be granted on a case by case basis by the COVID Operations Officer.

COMMANDER'S MESSAGE - OCTOBER 12, 1100 HRS

Team Watervliet,

As you are aware, Tank-automotive & Armaments Command Commanding General MG Werner shared information regarding mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for DoD Civilians to the TACOM workforce Friday, October 8. In short, all DoD Civilians must be fully vaccinated by November 22. As of this time, there is no guidance for exceptions – if you anticipate receiving an exception you should begin the necessary steps with your healthcare provider as soon as possible. You may view the attached memo and enforcement guidance FAQ’s for additional information.

Additional guidance will be received soon, in the interim, here is a brief summary of the vaccination requirements as outlined in the attached memorandums.

  • All Federal Employees will be required to be fully vaccinated by 22 November 2021, with exceptions only as required by law.
  • Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second shot in a two-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines) or two weeks after a single dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson).

Deadlines to be considered fully vaccinated by 22 November 2021:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine second doses are given 3 weeks (21 days) after first dose, therefore, first dose should be received NLT 18 October 2021 and second dose NLT 8 November 2021.
  • Moderna vaccine second doses are given 4 weeks (28 days) after first dose, therefore, first dose should be received NLT 11 October 2021 and second dose NLT 8 November 2021.
  • J&J single dose vaccine must be received by 8 November 2021.

For planning purposes, when directed to provide proof of vaccination, such proof may include, but is not limited to, a copy of the record of immunization from a health care provider or pharmacy, a copy of the COVID-19 vaccination record card, a copy of medical records documenting the vaccination, a copy of immunization records from a public health or state immunization information system or a copy of any other official documentation.

Watervliet Arsenal personnel may obtain the COVID vaccine through either local pharmacies or a New York State vaccination site. You can locate a vaccine from a pharmacy by visiting: https://www.vaccines.gov/or through New York State by visiting: https://am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov.

Echoing MG Werner’s words, vaccines are safe and effective in combating COVID-19, keeping the Watervliet Arsenal workforce safe and are available at no cost. You are encourage to learn more about specific vaccines at the following site: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/vaccine-benefits.html.

COL Earl B. Schonberg Jr.

61st Commander, Watervliet Arsenal

Face masks required in all indoor spaces

Due to increased community transmission of COVID-19 and in accordance with Deputy Secretary of Defense memo, “Updated Mask Guidance for all DoD Installations and Other Facilities”, on July 28, 2021, all individuals (regardless of vaccination status) on Watervliet Arsenal will wear masks when in indoor spaces in accordance with the most current CDC guidelines beginning Monday, August 23, 2021.

All individuals must wear masks continuously while on WVA except:

  • For brief periods of time when eating and drinking while maintaining social distancing.
  • When the mask is required to be lowered briefly for identification or security purposes.
  • When necessary to reasonable accommodate an individual with a disability.
  • Issued orders for telework to those eligible across the arsenal.
  • When necessary for health and safety – must have approval. Exceptions to this is in attached WVA memo.

References:

Updated-Mask-Guidelines-For-All-DOD-Installations-and-Other-Facilities (defense.gov)

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How many vaccination events are we planning to have at the WVA?

A: At this time, the DoD and DA guidance is to continue vaccination efforts until we reach 100% of the eligible population. WVA will continue to offer the vaccination to volunteers until the supply from Ft Drum is exhausted, or until 100% of the eligible population at WVA is vaccinated.

Q: Are booster shots likely in the future?

A: While more research is being conducted currently, there is a possibility that the FDA and CDC will recommend a booster shot for some or all of the Emergency Use Authorized vaccines (i.e. Pfizer, Moderna).

Q: What is the projected timeline for completion of vaccinations?

A: TACOM has directed milestones for the WVA to complete, by mid-May and into June. The WVA has surpassed these initial goals and continues to lead the way for TACOM Installations vaccination completion rates. WVA will continue vaccination efforts until the supply is exhausted, or until 100% of the eligible population is vaccinated.

Q: What methods are being used to assure the public that the current COVID-19 vaccines are safe, especially since the J&J vaccine has been paused?

A: The pausing of the J&J vaccine was the Nation’s response to assure the public that any continued use of vaccines remains safe, and to ensure that any vaccine safety concerns are taken seriously, and ultimately, to convey that human life is of the utmost importance. The WVA will continue to facilitate open and honest dialogue between the workforce and our internal medical professionals, as well as provide credible resources to enable the workforce to conduct personal research into the vaccines and other COVID-19 information. We also recommend that you discuss your concerns about the COVID-19 Vaccine with your Primary Care Provider for additional information that may be more specific to you and your health needs.

Q: What vaccine is offered at WVA?

A: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine More info is available at: Link to CDC vaccine information

Q: Why will a contact tracer contact me?

A: WVA contact tracers gather information from a sick employee, once a positive COVID test is confirmed. They will gather information from the sick individual about places they have been on post, and people they have been in *CLOSE CONTACT with, starting from 2 days before symptoms began. The information gathered is entirely provided by the sick employee. The contact tracer will then contact each of the *CLOSE CONTACTS provided by the sick individual, to inform them that they should be self-monitoring because of a potential exposure to a sick person with COVID. Contact tracers make initial contact with the contacts provided, and all subsequent follow up is to be conducted directly between supervisors and their employees.

Q: What is considered *CLOSE CONTACT?

A: *CLOSE CONTACT is defined by the CDC and the Army as "someone who was within 6 ft of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more, over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated." Proximate contacts (defined as being in the same enclosed environment such as a classroom, office, or gatherings but greater than 6 ft from a person displaying symptoms of COVID-19 or someone who has tested positive for COVID-19) do not require notification, but out of an abundance of caution, our contact tracers often inform any contacts that a sick person has identified.

Q: Why does WVA conduct contact tracing?

A: The system is designed to assist local health departments with initial contact tracing efforts, to help prevent the spread of COVID. The WVA contact tracing system does not take the place of any local health departments’ contact tracing system. Local health departments will conduct their own contact tracing efforts, once an individual has been confirmed positive as well, and they will contact any close contacts that the sick person has identified.

Q: Why might my local County Health Department say that I cannot return to work, due to a “quarantine order?”

A: Because WVA Employees are deemed “Critical Infrastructure,” we are exempt from the restrictions of the NYS WORKFORCE REDUCTION UNDER EXECUTIVE ORDER 202. 68 (#3 and #10). https://esd.ny.gov/guidance-executive-order-2026

Employees should understand this exemption, and be prepared to inform any Health Department contact tracers that WVA Employees are considered Critical Infrastructure, to avoid confusion with reporting to work, and ensuring that any time off requests are certified accurately. Local health departments are not always aware of the exemptions for critical infrastructure.

Q: Can I report to work if I have had close contact with someone that has tested positive for COVID (even if they live in my home)?

A: Yes. As critical infrastructure, WVA employees continue to report to work even after exposure AS LONG AS ALL OF THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS ARE MET FOR AT LEAST 10 DAYS FOLLOWING EXPOSURE:

  • The employee remains asymptomatic (without any symptoms)
  • The employee wears a mask at all times while at work
  • The employee maintains social distancing at all times
  • The employee continues to observe good hand and surface washing practices
  • The employee self-monitors, to ensure no fever is present and no other symptoms begin
  • The employee immediately reports any potentially COVID related symptom to their supervisor and does not go to work if sick

Q: How soon after a potential exposure will I be notified?

A: The contact tracing process only begins once an individual confirms that they are positive for COVID. This built in timeline creates a delay between onset of symptoms/potential exposure, and notification of anyone the sick employee has identified. Because of this, it is crucial that all employee continue wearing masks, washing hands and all shared surfaces often, and staying 6 feet apart. When these techniques are properly utilized and enforced, most close contact can be eliminated.

Q: What does the WVA do once they know of a confirmed case?

A: All work areas are sanitized after any confirmed case is reported.

What to do if you're not feeling well

As a general rule, employees have been encouraged to use their sick leave when they are feeling ill. Now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever for employees to pay attention to their health and stay home when sick to avoid potential spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Employees should familiarize themselves with the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 that can be found at the following URL: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

If you experience any of the symptoms listed you should stay home, arrange sick leave with your supervisor per guidance and seek appropriate care and/or testing. While the command cannot force you to take a COVID-19 test, if you are experiencing symptoms and / or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive you are encouraged to arrange for testing. You can locate a testing site by using the interactive map at the following URL: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/find-test-site-near-you

It is the employee's responsibility to inform their supervisor if they are feeling ill or test positive for COVID-19. If you test positive and are experiencing symptoms you will be granted sick leave while you recover. If you test positive, you should stay home from work and use sick leave while you recover, for a minimum of 10 days from the date of testing, at which you may return to work IF you are fever free for at least 24 hours (without the use of fever reducing medication) and your other symptoms are improving. Loss of taste or smell may continue beyond 10 days, even after you feel well again. Please note, FCRA leave is no longer available since the program expired on December 31, 2020.

If you have any questions about this guidance, contact your first line supervisor.

HEALTH PROTECTION CONDITION (HPCON)

Due to the changing nature of our local region and the efforts by the workforce to mitigate the risks of COVID-19, Watervliet Arsenal assumed HPCON Alpha as of June 2, 2021.

Continue all Routine actions and:

  • 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 (CDC) and your local public health agencies.

COVID-19 NEWS

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL GUIDANCE

As this is a rapidly evolving situation, the Office of Personnel Management will continue to assist and inform agencies and employees regarding the potential impacts of and available responses to COVID-19. The OPM will also update its website on a frequent basis to provide the latest guidance and additional questions and answers.

RECOMMENDATIONS

We encourage all personnel to continue to practice proper hygiene as the best way to prevent the spread of viruses. This includes washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Also, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands and avoid close contact with those who are sick. Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces should also be done.

Help mitigate the spread of the virus by following recommended preventive measures such as frequent hand washing, avoiding close contact with sick individuals, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning frequently touched objects and surfaces, staying home when feeling ill, and avoiding touching eyes, nose, and/or mouth.

TRAVEL GUIDANCE

Effective March 13, 2020, all Department of Defense uniformed personnel, civilian personnel and family members traveling to, from, or through CDC Travel Health Notices Level 3 (COVID-19) designated locations, will stop movement for the next 60 days. This includes all forms of official travel, including Permanent Change of Station, Temporary Duty, and government-funded leave. For DoD uniformed personnel, this also includes personal leave and other non-official travel. DoD travelers should carefully plan travel to ensure their scheduled flights do not transit through or originate in Level 3 designated locations.

NEW YORK FORWARD

New York Forward is the phased reopening of New York's businesses and services across the state by region. The incremental opening occurs over four phases with a two week period for observation and study to ensure there isn't a sudden increase in new COVID-19 cases.

MORE INFORMATION

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Matthew Day
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Created with an image by Fusion Medical Animation - "New visualisation of the Covid-19 virus"