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Around Fort Meade, Virus Hit Is ‘Like Sequestration on Steroids’

Posted on Apr 02, 2020 08:14 pm

The communities surrounding Fort Meade, Md., are under stay-at-home orders, including nearby Virginia and Washington, D.C. Contractors on base are struggling to find solutions to continue their mission.

Some essential personnel are working week-on, week-off mandated shifts to try to comply with social distancing guidelines, but even that raises questions about pay and how to manage and pay for staff who can’t work remotely.

“You may be able to bill for that time as if they were on location, but guidance is still to come out,” Tim O’Ferrall, the general manager of Fort Meade Alliance, told ADC.

The community and its private employers are also trying to understand the rush of information coming to the community about federal and state initiatives to help service members, contractors, businesses and individuals.

The scope of the situation and the uncertainty it creates are “like sequestration on steroids,” O’Ferrall said.

Even the alliance’s webinar series doesn’t provide enough time to discuss the emerging issues and answer community members’ questions, including one of the most pressing issues: Will contractors be able to retain highly skilled personnel operating on reduced schedules who may decide to find opportunities in the commercial sector, which can now offer similar compensation without the restrictions of only being able to perform the work on site?

He said he is optimistic that there will be more clarity in the coming days and weeks and added that the community knows it’s lucky in the long term because of how critical its missions are.

“My 13-year-old put it this way when I asked how he is doing the day after his second week of being quarantined in the house,” O’Ferrall said. “He said, ‘It’s like I’m being punished. I don’t know why and for how long.’”

Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Lauren Parsons

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Post courtesy of the Association of Defense Communities

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