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Aberdeen Proving Ground confirms second coronavirus case amid stepped-up countermeasures

Two employees at Aberdeen Proving Ground tested positive for the novel coronavirus that is sweeping across Maryland and the world, according to posts made to the base’s Facebook page.

In response to the virus, the base will be “limiting all travel, in-person meetings, and other gatherings, as well as reducing on-post services and maximizing telework,” among other steps taken to reduce the spread of the virus, the post states.

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One employee, who was not identified further, worked in a secure facility on APG North, and had not been into the office since March 16, according to a Friday Facebook post.

The person had traveled to New York the weekend before March 16 and was tested for COVID-19 because of their age, health and recent travel. The person did not show symptoms and has since been put in isolation, the post states.

On Tuesday, the base posted that a second suspected case of coronavirus was confirmed of two other suspected cases. The other suspected case came back negative. The person who tested positive was also not identified, but was last in building 6010 on March 13. They were tested on March 18 when they began to feel ill.

All people who were in close contact with the second person to test positive have been on self-quarantine since March 18, the post states. None has shown positive signs at this time, and the majority of the contact areas have been cleaned, the post states.

APG North’s barbershop has also temporarily been shut down after two employees reportedly had contact March 13 with a person who tested positive on Sunday, the post states.

“Out of an abundance of caution, I have directed the shop to close for 14 days and an immediate thorough cleaning of the facility. We are running trace operations now and will provide an update on results when they become available,” the post attributed to Maj. Gen. Mitchell L. Kilgo states.

The first employee was a resident of Delaware, according to Harford County Government spokeswoman Cindy Mumby, so the individual will not show up in state or county data reported by the Maryland Department of Health.

As of Tuesday morning, the state was reporting 349 confirmed cases in Maryland, including five in Harford County.

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APG officials did not return requests for comment.

The Army installation is Harford County’s largest employer, accounting for more than 21,000 military, civilian and contractor jobs, to APG’s website.

The building where the first person tested positive for COVID-19 was mostly empty as many employees were working remotely, according to APG’s social media post, but it is being cleaned.

Officials are working to trace who the people had contact with to contain any potential spread of the virus. The posts noted that the base would be stepping up its preventative measures — steps outlined in the Army’s Health Protection Condition (HPCON) level, which details specific actions the base takes to prevent the spread of disease — but the countermeasures were heightened even more Monday.

Team APG, Below please find APG COVID-19 updates and announcements for Friday, 20 March. I have raised the APG Health...

Posted by Aberdeen Proving Ground on Friday, March 20, 2020



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Though the HPCON level changed on the base, Garrison Commander Col. Tim Druell, in a video message posted to social media on Monday, said the effect on APG has been minimal. The base was already exercising stricter viral countermeasures than recommended, including asking personnel to work home and limiting in-person meetings and travel, he said.

Military personnel will remain in the local commuting area, and civilian employees are encouraged to stay in the area, the post states. APG’s Chaplin Services is offering food basket delivery for soldiers, civilians, retirees and families living on post and under quarantine as well as counseling services, the post states.

The base also closed its child-care facilities except to those deemed key and essential, like medical workers, the post states.

Druell recommended people working on the base stay home when they are sick, wash their hands frequently and report sickness to their supervisors, consistent with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s advice. He also advised workers to wipe down their computers and workstations.

The stepped-up preventative measures at APG come after Maryland shut all non-essential businesses and was preparing to build on-the-fly hospitals to address the viral pandemic, which has sickened at least 349 Marylanders and killed four as of Tuesday.

Five cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Harford County, according to data from the Maryland Department of Health.

On Monday, Mumby said the latest case was a 59-year-old male who had traveled out of state, who was tested after reporting symptoms and is now self-isolating.

It’s unclear whether that is the fifth case listed by the state or if it is 55-year-old man reported by the state Friday, but whom officials now believe was an address error by a private lab.

The four other Harford cases include an 86-year-old woman who contracted the virus traveling overseas and is hospitalized and a 69-year-old family member of hers, who is isolated at home, a 47-year-old man who lives in Harford but is working in Boston and was tested and is self-isolating there, and a 44-year-old woman who is stable and isolated at home.

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