FORT HUACHUCA — The two gyms on post have been segregated to accommodate the vaccinated and the un-vaccinated, the commanding general announced in a COVID-19 update this week, mirroring a practice that is starting to surface in many cities at restaurants, clubs and some sporting events.
As of June 29, vaccinated personnel at Fort Huachuca were allowed to work out maskless at Barnes Field House on the installation, while those who have not received their jab in the arm have been relegated to the Eifler Fitness Center where a mast is required, said Maj. Gen. Tony Hale during Fort Huachuca’s 38th COVID-19 session.
The separation of the two groups is similar to what’s happening across the U.S., especially in larger metropolitan areas where restaurant and bar patrons are being separated based on their vaccination status. The same is occurring at some sporting venues in New York, published reports show.
According to the Poynter Institute’s website, one Washington state representative likened the distinction between the vaccinated and the non-vaccinated to Jim Crow racial segregation.
While virus cases on Fort Huachuca have continued to decrease, a desired goal of having at least 70% of the personnel vaccinated has not occurred, Hale said.
“We still have a ways to go before we get to that 70% mark of immunity,” Hale said during the update.
Because conditions have improved at the installation Hale said he was instituting General Order 13, the highlights of which include going maskless if personnel are fully vaccinated, being allowed to travel farther from post within the U.S. and the gym privileges.
It’s not clear whether Fort Huachuca is offering any other incentives at the installation for personnel who get inoculated. A spokeswoman at the post did not respond to an email sent Wednesday.
Published reports show that the U.S. Department of Defense has not issued an across-the-board incentives program for vaccinated personnel. But some branches of the military have done so. According to a story on CNN, three Army installations have introduced incentives for their soldiers in the past several weeks.
On its Facebook page last week, Fort Huachuca announced that the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine would be available for walk-ins at the Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center, with soldiers receiving priority. The vaccine is available for individuals 18 years and older to include family members and retirees.
Earlier this year Hale and other commanders showed off their arms while getting inoculated in an effort to encourage others on Fort Huachuca to do the same.
The general also told the Herald/Review there were many younger soldiers on post who were afraid of getting the vaccine because they thought it had been developed too quickly.
The latest general order allows all fully vaccinated personnel to go maskless on and off the installation, except in public buildings off-post. The un-vaccinated must wear their masks indoors on post and outdoors in areas where social distancing is not possible.
Personnel who have been vaccinated must always present proof of their inoculation, Hale said.