The U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood Commander Col. Jeff Paine and his leadership team hosted a joint in-person and virtual town hall Wednesday for garrison employees to bring concerns forward and gain clarification on policies.

“We wanted to provide you an opportunity to give us feedback … tell us about the issues you’re dealing with, so we can help,” Paine said. “It’s also an opportunity for leadership to communicate some of the priorities — some of the things that are going on.”

Paine said open communication is “absolutely critical to how we operate as a garrison team.”

The first question asked dealt with why employees are not told the names of coworkers who have tested positive for COVID-19.

“First of all, I’ll tell you that the safety and health of all of us is our first consideration — you have my pledge on that,” Paine said. “However, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act basically says that I can’t share with you what I know … about the health care of anyone else in the organization.

“What we are doing … is we have a contact trace team,” he continued. “If someone who was determined to have close contact with you tests positive, the contact trace team will contact you and give you directions on what to do.”

A question was asked on the lifting of travel restrictions as part of General Order No. 4.

“We talked about protecting the bubble in March and April,” Paine said. “The problem is: there are holes in the bubble. Based on the advice of medical professionals … whether we’re in our work spaces or (the grocery store), we need to wear our masks, maintain social distancing, have good hygiene — wash our hands. Doing those things has significantly greater impact on the transmission and spread of the virus than any sort of travel restrictions.”

Another question asked about the policies regarding the healthy return of trainees from Holiday Block Leave in January.

“We’re talking about potentially mass amounts of telework to the extent where we were in March and April … for a short period of time,” Paine said. “Additionally, we may have to take a look at some of the services we have opened up — predominantly (Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation) and (Army and Air Force Exchange Service). We may have to close or restrict those for a period of time until we can get a clear status on everybody who has returned to the installation — until we have the opportunity to test or assess them as necessary — and ensure we have everybody healthy.”

Paine, who took command of the garrison in July, said one of his goals is to host a town hall once each quarter. He said the next event is scheduled for Feb. 24, and, like Wednesday’s event, will also be live streamed.