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Nellis restoring some services for military retirees, dependents

Certain services at Nellis Air Force Base will reopen to retirees and their dependents on the weekends only, base officials announced on Tuesday.

Starting Saturday, eligible beneficiaries can access the exchange, commissary and food services. Access to the satellite pharmacy on the weekends will begin July 25, to give people time to transfer prescriptions back to the base.

Prescriptions must be submitted by 10 a.m. July 21 to be picked up on July 25.

Thousands of military retirees, dependents and widows have been locked out of the base since April 10, unable to access the no-cost medication to which they are entitled. Many were subject to copays that can quickly add up to hundreds of dollars.

Nellis is currently in Phase Two of its reopening plan, which it re-entered last week after Southern Nevada’s “sustained increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases,” officials said.

The base was previously in Phase Three, which it entered on June 1.

Phase Two permits mission-essential employees to work on base while allowing telework to the maximum extent possible. Large groups are limited and social distancing is required. Face coverings also are required on base.

Nellis’ hospital remains open to all eligible beneficiaries.

Nellis Air Force Base leadership, including its medical professionals, continue to monitor and work closely with federal, state and local health officials to ensure response efforts are coordinated, the base said Tuesday.

For the base to move back into Phase Three and beyond, there must be no significant change in positive COVID-19 cases, robust testing capability, hospital surge capacity and extensive tracing measures for at least two weeks, officials said.

The base has been under a public health emergency since April 3.

Although the base has declined to give the number of COVID-19 cases on base, an email obtained by the Review-Journal and dated April 23 showed that Col. Cavan Craddock, former commander of the 99th Air Base Wing, told base personnel that 1,083 tests had been administered at Nellis hospital. Fifty-one came back positive, he said.

The first case connected to the base was announced on March 19 and involved a service member from the NATO military alliance who was at the base earlier in the month for Red Flag 20-2, an air-to-air combat training exercise.

During Red Flag, more than 80 aircraft depart Nellis twice a day and remain in the air for up to five hours. Since 1975, 29 other countries have joined the U.S. in the exercises, and several other countries have participated as observers.

For Nellis-specific COVID-19 information, visit https://www.nellis.af.mil/COVID-19/.

Contact Briana Erickson at berickson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5244. Follow @ByBrianaE on Twitter.

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