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Fort Meade garrison commander: Please limit Thanksgiving plans

Col. Christopher Nyland will spend Thanksgiving at home with his wife.

It is a much smaller Thanksgiving than he planned. Like other local leaders, the garrison commander at Fort George G. Meade canceled his plans to celebrate the holiday with friends and family. Now, he is asking that the Fort Meade community make the same decision.

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“I am asking you to make more sacrifices, and I understand how galling that it can be to hear considering how many sacrifices that you have made throughout your career in the military or though your spouse’s career in the military, but right now it is the only prudent thing to do,” Nyland said at a Thursday COVID-19 town hall.

He asked that residents follow the directives for themselves. For their neighbors. For the entire Fort Meade community.

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Fort Meade and Anne Arundel County have imposed gathering restrictions of less than 10 people inside and 25 outside, with social distancing and face masks guidance in place.

Nyland knows this is not how anyone wants to celebrate Thanksgiving, but it is the responsible way, he said.

“This is absolutely the type of action everybody needs to take so we can meet our objectives in keeping this community safe,” the garrison commander said.

Nyland also asked that everyone wear a mask, social distance and participate in contact tracing.

In Maryland, cases are rising with Thursday seeing the highest single-day increase of cases so far in the pandemic. The case rate per 100,000 residents in the local jurisdictions, the metric Nyland uses to make decisions, increased by 250% in the last week.

While numbers over the summer and early fall looked good, that is no longer the case, Nyland told the community.

“This is hard, and I absolutely understand that,” he said.

Along with the guidance on the holiday, Nyland also warned Fort Meade residents that it was likely the base would be moving back to Health Protection Condition Charlie in the next two weeks.

HPCON Charlie is not a switch he’ll flip and everything will have more restrictions, Nyland said. Instead, it is a condition under which the garrison and senior leaders will make decisions. Already, Nyland’s staff is working to determine what entities are mission essential and which ones fall under the nice-to-have category.

Those under the nice-to-have category could face restrictions or be closed under HPCON Charlie, with the necessary facilities staying open, with some possible restrictions, unless it is necessary to close them.

Necessary entities include child care, the gymnasium and other facilities that allow Fort Meade to meet its mission.

Fort Meade does not have a mask mandate that requires masks every time a person walks outside, yet, Nyland said. But he asked that people take responsibility for their actions.

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Someone running alone and outside does not necessarily need a mask, but they should have one on them once they get closer to other people, such as on the walk back to their homes.

Nyland and the garrison will continue to update on what facilities could face more restrictions or closures through social media and other online mediums, the garrison commander said.

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