By John McCallum
Managing Editor 

Fairchild announces first COVID-19 case


Last updated 3/17/2020 at 1:19pm

AIRWAY HEIGHTS, WASH. -- Fairchild Air Force Base officials have announced that one of their airmen has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. In a March 16 news release, officials said they are monitoring the situation after samples sent to a Department of Defense lab produced positive results.

The individual is in self-isolation at their off-base residence and base officials have notified Spokane Regional Health District authorities. Additionally, Col. Derek Salmi, the Installation Commander, has declared an on-base public health emergency on the recommendation of the Fairchild Public Health Emergency Officer.

“Our number one priority is protecting the health and safety of our Total Force Airmen and families,” Salmi said in the news release. “We are lock-step with the Spokane Regional Health District and other community partners to help mitigate the spread and effects of the coronavirus while providing updates as quickly as possible.”

The airmen is the fourth reported case of the novel coronavirus and the disease it carries, COVID-19, in Spokane County.

According to the release, Salmi's declaration "provides the Fairchild AFB Installation Commander with additional authorities necessary to protect Airmen and families and limit the spread of the virus. This includes restricting movement of personnel and access to the installation as necessary and implementing quarantine or isolation procedures for affected individuals."

Fairchild has also raised its Health Protection Condition (HPCON) from Alpha to Bravo. In HPCON Bravo, Fairchild AFB members and families are encouraged to practice prevention measures already in place, including following strict personal and environmental hygiene, social distancing, staying home if sick, self-quarantining if exposed, and contacting their healthcare provider if they develop any symptoms consistent with COVID-19, such as fever, coughing and shortness of breath.

John McCallum can be reached at

Author Bio

John McCallum, Managing Editor

John McCallum is an award-winning journalist who has been with the Cheney Free Press for over 20 years. He has received 10 Washington Newspaper Publisher Association awards for journalism and photography, including first place awards for Best Investigative, Best News and back-to-back awards in Best Breaking News categories. He has been serving as editor of the Spokane Valley News Herald since March 2020.

Phone: 509-235-6184
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