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Author: TriSec    Date: 07/14/2020 11:24:53

Good Morning.

It is July - we're just four months away from a somewhat significant presidential election. As you know, a great national 'debate' is taking place about the efficacy and safety of voting by mail - what most of us call "Absentee" ballots. This Commonwealth just officially opened up absentee balloting to all, but we always had this. You can request a mail-in ballot for any election; it's not required to provide a reason why you want one.

A national entity has just advised all its members to request their ballots early. Of course it's a national "prop" that our friends in the GOP love to parade out whenever they need raw meat to satisfy their base.

With the general election less than four months away, it’s time to request your absentee ballot, if you haven’t done so already.

Officials with the Federal Voting Assistance Program recommend that you request your ballot by Aug. 1.

FVAP officials have been monitoring the situation with COVID, which has affected post offices in a number of international locations, but so far there have been no complaints from the military community voting in their primaries, according to Scott Wiedmann, deputy director of FVAP, which administers the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, commonly known as UOCAVA, for DoD. Its mission is to provide up-to-date information for the military community and overseas citizens who want to vote.

Postal operations have continued to move mail for military overseas throughout the pandemic, Wiedmann said, but there have been some problems for American citizens who don’t have access to a military post office. Because of the constantly changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wiedmann said, overseas voters should contact their military post office, U.S. embassy or consulate, or local in-country post office about any possible delivery delays before mailing their voted ballot.

Military members and their family members who will be away from their polling place on Nov. 3 can vote by absentee ballot. The UOCAVA law requires states to have certain provisions to make voting easier for military and overseas citizens who need to vote absentee. That applies to military members and family members living in the U.S. as well as overseas, and to American citizens living overseas. (Note: there are still a few state primary races left. Find information about them here.)

FVAP encourages the use of the Federal Post Card Application, or FPCA, to start the absentee voting process as it is standardized to be used across all states. The FPCA acts as both a registration and absentee ballot request form. You can download the FPCA on FVAP.gov.

Imagine, a federal agency encouraging responsible early voting - and a standardized national method for going about requesting the form. This is dangerously subversive, IMHO, and sounds ripe for voter fraud. I'm sure many thousands of deceased GIs will be voting from Arlington National Cemetery. I hope somebody alerts the President.

Moving on, let's take a look at what this fall might actually look at in some sectors. Yesterday, the City of Boston took another tentative step towards a new normal. We entered "Phase 3", and things like museums, gyms, and even limited guided tours started operating again. (One of my drivers carried 11 people on 3 tours yesterday - so people are being cautious.) But of course, the elephant in the room remains the school year.

Many colleges in this area are planning online studies only for the fall, although Northeastern University still clings to the notion that they will have in-person classes. The bigger issue is the public school system. But cities and towns aren't the only ones wrestling with this - the Defense Department runs a number of colleges, too.

WEST POINT, N.Y. — New cadet candidates arriving at the U.S. Military Academy on Monday were promptly tested for COVID-19, stood at attention in face masks and were given shouted orders to wash their hands.

The transition from civilian to West Point cadet is different for the Class of 2024 as the academy adapts to the pandemic, starting with Reception Day, or R-Day.

Reception Day still ushers in an intense period of training that introduces new arrivals to the rigors of cadet life. But this year, older cadets barked orders through face masks. New cadets will still have to endure the weeks of drills, marches and exertions of Cadet Basic Training, unofficially known as “Beast Barracks.” But that training will be two weeks shorter this year.

New arrivals dropped off by their parents Monday morning took a moment for goodbye hugs before being tested for COVID-19. Results come back in an hour or so. Those who test positive — as four did Sunday — will be isolated for weeks but will still take part in training.

Hundreds of new cadets spent Monday being hustled around in groups for the traditional round of uniform fittings, buzz cuts and lining up. They were ordered to “Hurry Up!” and “Move With a Purpose!” but also “Wash Your Hands!” at an outdoor water station. At another station, older cadets shouted orders to the new arrivals from behind a see-through plastic sheet. New cadets marched in socially distant intervals.

“We can mitigate exposure as much as possible, but we can't eliminate it. What we can do is prevent transit from one person to the next by adhering to strict, non-pharmaceutical interventions,” said Lt. Col. Robert Kinney, who is in charge of R-Day operations.

Of course, this is the military - it's very easy to make masks and social distancing mandatory - that's an order, Cadet!! It's sure to be a rude awakening for many, as we all know the military is mostly dominated by differently-winged Southerners.

But then, there's the enlisted guys too. Despite national stumblings on the civilian front, the military has apparently been testing recruits for Covid-19 since March 15. Perhaps surprisingly, the positive numbers among USAF and Army recruits is not out of control. But it's been a concern all summer. Basic training goes on year-round, and it's been happening under the radar all along.

Since the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Air Force and Army basic military training programs have seen hundreds of recruits test positive for COVID-19, with the majority of them showing no symptoms, top officials said Friday.

Roughly 200 out of 8,700 Air Force recruits have tested positive for COVID-19 since March 15 at Basic Military Training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, according to Maj. Gen. Andrea Tullos, Air Education and Training Command's 2nd Air Force commander at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi.

"That's a 2% positive rate over approximately four months of training, and 60% of those positive [cases] have been asymptomatic," Tullos told reporters during a Pentagon briefing. None of the trainees needed hospitalization, and those affected have since recovered and returned to training, she said.

Similarly, the Army has seen about 2% of recruits test positive since cases began to spread in the spring, added Army Maj. Gen. Lonnie Hibbard, commander of the Army Center for Initial Military Training at Fort Eustis, Virginia.

"[On] any given day, there are approximately 46,000 soldiers training to become a member of the U.S. Army," he said, adding that 2% of recruits have tested positive in recent months. Most were asymptomatic, he said.

The services follow the same protocols when a member shows symptoms or tests positive.

Those who do are quarantined for 14 days and communicate with medical professionals about their health over the course of their isolation, the officials said. They must be medically cleared before they can rejoin their units.

"In the past, I can say our culture was kind of a 'suck it up' culture, where we wanted you to push through regardless of how you're feeling, and that is absolutely the opposite of what we're encouraging right now," Tullos said.

I will step away from military matters for my last comment today. It seems that another celebrity has died recently, so naturally the media is obsessing over the "tragic circumstances." As a former on-water instructor, I'll state the obvious. Her son was wearing a PFD. He's alive today. She was not. They found her at the bottom of the lake. I'm also a long-distance swimmer; the water doesn't care how good you are, if it wants you, it will take you...and it doesn't take much. Just like a mask - wear your PFD!


12 comments (Latest Comment: 07/14/2020 19:35:15 by Scoopster)
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