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CRTC chosen as pre-deployment quarantine shelter for military

Courtesy Photo The military barracks at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, seen in a courtesy photo shared by CRTC personnel, await the arrival of several hundred Air Force members ensuring their health before deployment.

ALPENA — Up to 400 military personnel may shelter in place at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center in coming months, taking a two-week pause to ensure their health before they head out on missions around the world.

Exact details are still in the works, but the base has been chosen as a pre-deployment quarantine location for Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, and active duty Air Force members.

The base will provide lodging for 200 to 400 personnel, who will remain on the base for the two-week span to make sure they are COVID-19 free before departing for the Middle East or other destinations around the world.

All service members deploying outside the U.S., whether to a COVID-19 area or not, must quarantine for 14 days before travel, unless there’s a prior arrangement for them to quarantine on arrival in their destination country, the U.S. Department of Defense explained on its website.

It’s uncertain when the quarantining service members will begin arriving in Alpena or how long the base will be used as a quarantine space, but the trainings for which the base is regularly used should be able to continue despite the new use of some of the base’s lodging, according to Capt Andrew Layton, public affairs officer for the Michigan National Guard.

Winter Strike — an exercise similar to the annual Northern Strike large-scale training held in conjunction with the base each summer — is scheduled to be held again early in 2021 after its first, successful run in January, albeit with possible changes to its format because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Caring for the quarantining service members — who won’t be allowed to leave the base — may draw in an extra 100 temporary support personnel from Alpena or other nearby military installations, as the bump in population will be larger than the ordinary staff is equipped to handle.

Alpena was chosen as a quarantine site because of the capabilities and facilities of the CRTC. The success of large events like Northern Strike have proven the base is easy to access and can efficiently handle large numbers of military members, according to Layton.

“It’s what Alpena brings to the table in terms of being ready to respond,” Layton said.

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