EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Fort Bliss is currently housing 404 soldiers in quarantine at existing barracks and will be moving them to a larger training area in order to accommodate the quarantine required by the U.S. Army for returning forces, according to Colonel Matthew Eichburg.
The high number of quarantined soldiers is a result of all soldiers returning from outside of the lower 48 states being placed under a mandatory 14-day quarantine by the U.S. Army.
“We have a mechanism in place that we see every single flight that supposed to come in here. We know how many people there are, men and women,” Col. Eichburg said in a Fort Bliss town hall Monday night.
Fort Bliss is currently using existing barracks to house the quarantined soldiers, but they’re preparing a training area where they’ll be housing a larger number of deploying and returning troops. All soldiers will undergo medical screening before determining if they require isolation.
The groups will be separated into cohorts in order to determine how long they’re required to stay in quarantine before being moved to their home base.
Fort Bliss was forced to implement changes Monday after several soldiers complained of not receiving proper meals while in quarantine. KTSM was contacted by an anonymous soldier with the Washington National Guard who was returning from Iraq. The soldier said they were being given only small snacks instead of hot meals while quarantined.
Col. Eichburg said moving the soldiers to the larger training field area will allow them to move about more freely than they’ve been able to do while in the barracks during their 14-day quarantine. The soldiers will also be allowed to access the internet to contact family members once they’re moved into the larger field facility.
Soldiers currently stationed at Fort Bliss are only authorized for travel within 100 miles of the El Paso area. All other domestic and international leaves and passes for Service members are currently unauthorized.