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D-M 'Boneyard' worker tests positive for coronavirus

Air Force base in Tucson moved to 'HPCON Charlie' on Wednesday

A civilian employee at the "Boneyard" at Tucson's Davis-Monthan Air Force Base has tested positive for COVID-19, officials said Thursday afternoon.

This is the first confirmed case of the virus among D-M workers, officials said. Flight operations at the base were halted Wednesday after the Pentagon ordered an increase in health protection measures across all U.S. military installations.

The worker at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group — the "Boneyard" storage and maintenance complex on the base — is "currently undergoing observation and treatment," Air Force officials said.

No information about the worker's identity, age or what symptoms may have prompted the test were released.

"The individual has not been on base since March 19," officials said.

Pima County officials declined to indicate if the D-M case was included in the updated count of reported cases that they released earlier in the day. 75 county residents are among the more than 500 confirmed reports of CV-19 across Arizona, according to government data released Thursday morning.

The Air Force base, along with Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista and all other U.S. military bases, was ordered to upgrade its status to "HPCON Charlie" on Wednesday.

Under that "health protection condition" level, officials recommend social distancing, strict hygiene, refraining from physical contact and covering mouths and noses with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.

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The base's status was increased from "Bravo" on order of the Pentagon, and was put in place by Col. Michael Drowley, the commander of the 355th Wing here.

"The health of our airmen, their families and our community partners remains our top priority, and this is a prudent measure taken to help minimize the potential spread of the virus at Davis-Monthan and within the county," a statement from the base said.

"Flying operations are paused until further notice. Personnel should contact their leadership for further details," the statement said.

"Davis-Monthan partnered with the Pima County Health Department on March 13 to share information and present a unified front in combating COVID-19," Air Force official said in a news release about the diagnosis Thursday afternoon.

Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista also moved to "Charlie" condition, but U.S. Army officials there did not disclose any information about shifts in base operations.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper ordered all Department of Defense components to move up to "Charlie" status.

Other potential actions listed by the Air Force under the "Charlie" condition include shelter-in-place orders.

The only remaining step on the list of health protection measures is "Delta" status, which includes quarantines and mass evacuations.

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U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kayla Palmer

U.S. Air Force Maj. Cody Wilton, A-10C Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team pilot, poses from the cockpit of an A-10 Thunderbolt II at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, March 23, 2020. The A-10 is the U.S. Air Force’s premier close air support aircraft.