Red Flag 20-2 & Red Flag Alaska Cancelled As Nellis Air Force Base Reports COVID-19 Cases

Red Flag 20-2 & Red Flag Alaska Cancelled As Nellis Air Force Base Reports COVID-19 Cases
German Tornados and Spanish Eurofighters prepare to take off at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, during Red Flag 20-2, March 10, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Philip Bryant)

Nellis Air Force Base has now confirmed three new positive COVID-19 cases, bring the total to four. All service members are being treated and entered isolation at the time of symptom onset. The members will remain in isolation in accordance with CDC protocols.

The U.S. Air Force has confirmed that a NATO service member has tested positive for COVID-19 at Nellis AFB, Nevada, during the ongoing Red Flag 20-2 exercise, and Red Flag Alaska exercise has been canceled.

In a press release issued by public affairs from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for the U.S. Air Force Pacific Air Forces, officials reported that

“After careful consideration and coordination with participating nations, Pacific Air Forces has canceled Red Flag-Alaska 20-1 scheduled for April 30 to May 15 at Eielson Air Force Base and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. The decision to cancel follows the Department of Defense travel restrictions on domestic travel implemented on 16 March in response to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19. The health of our forces and local communities is a top priority. Red Flag-Alaska is a Pacific Air Forces-sponsored exercise designed to provide realistic training in a simulated combat environment with primary flight operations over the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex.”

A NATO service member at Nellis Air Force Base has tested positive for COVID-19. The service member, who was at the base for Red Flag 20-2, entered isolation at the time of symptom onset and will remain in isolation in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control protocols.

Flight operations for Red Flag 20-2, which was scheduled to run March 6 through Friday, were stopped earlier this week, according to an email sent Thursday afternoon to Air Force personnel and obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

In the email, 99th Air Base Wing Commander Col. Cavan Craddock said the NATO member was tested for COVID-19 Monday night.

“We just received the test results and they were positive for COVID-19,” he wrote, adding and that the base has “about 100 tests sent out to the CDC awaiting results.” CDC stands for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Craddock told personnel that the service member developed symptoms over the weekend and was brought by a NATO flight surgeon to the Nellis Emergency Department on Monday.

“He met criteria for testing but was not sick enough to be admitted to the hospital,” Craddock wrote, adding that the unit had isolated the member in his Henderson hotel room, where he has remained in isolation.

“We are in the process of redeploying all Red Flag personnel not stationed at Nellis,” Craddock said.

During Red Flag, more than 80 aircraft depart Nellis twice a day and remain in the air for up to five hours. Since 1975, 29 other countries have joined the U.S. in these exercises, and several other countries have participated as observers.


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