Yokota Medical Group counters COVID cases with augmentee program

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Tyrone Thomas
  • 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

In response to a spike in COVID-19 cases, 374th Medical Group public health professionals enacted a more aggressive campaign against the virus by tapping into the augmentee program, Nov. 23, Yokota Air Base, Japan.

Airmen from a variety of career fields, including mental health, optometry and medical logistics were recruited to work alongside public health technicians as augmentee workers.

“Seeing motivated people coming in ready to work definitely inspires us,” said Staff Sgt. Brittany Holland, 374th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron public health technician. “They excellently handle the daunting tasks of contact tracing and keeping people safe.”
Contact tracing involves in-depth research spanning fourteen days prior to symptom onset and investigating all close contacts for possible exposure.

“The incubation period for COVID is earlier than when someone experiences symptoms so it’s important to go back as far as fourteen days to see who this person may have contracted it from or potentially given it to in that span of time,” said Holland. “It’s the best way the Center of Disease Control recommends that we prevent the spread and the bulk of what we do in public health in response to the pandemic.”

Public health and the augmentee workers are on the frontlines, combatting the spread of this virus and misinformation.

“As augmentees, we reduce the public health technicians’ work-load,” said Airman 1st Class Sabrena Masuda, 374th OMRS mental health technician. “We’re calling patients, making sure they aren’t having symptoms, ensuring they’re doing well in quarantine, and giving them information and support.”  

The goal is to track down every lead, follow every path, and find the source of any spread while keeping the public informed.
“Big picture; stop the spread and ensuring everyone is educated and staying on top of the health protection measures set in place,” said Stem. “We all know the rules by now, but we can all benefit from a reminder to put our community health first.”