USO officials are temporarily suspending all its USO Airport Centers in the U.S. by March 13 because of concerns about spreading the new coronavirus.
As far as the famed USO tours with celebrities, officials will evaluate entertainment tours and postpone or cancel events as needed, USO officials said, “to align with military and civic requirements to minimize public gatherings.” For example, Ciara had to postpone her concert scheduled for March 19 at Fort Hood due to travel restrictions.
Airport centers will remain closed until further notice and will affect more than 51 airports in 25 states. On a weekly basis, officials will evaluate whether the centers can be reopened.
The action is “to ensure the safety and health of military service members and families, USO staff, and 30,000 USO volunteers and to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19 in the communities in which USO serves,” according to a USO statement issued Thursday.
Some airport locations will continue to provide support for large military personnel movements through airports.
The USO will also continue to provide programs and resources to service members and their families at their locations serving military communities around the world “as best as possible while minimizing health risks,” according to the announcement.
USO Programs and USO Entertainment teams will seek other ways to deliver programs, such live streaming events, and will work with USO regional and local teams to increase mission delivery to help support military coronavirus response efforts — such as shipping USO2Go items to quarantined troops, officials said. These USO2Go kits are customized to include everything from electronics to gaming and music equipment.
“Our leadership teams will monitor health advisories and evaluate operational conditions on a frequent basis as long as necessary to ensure continuity of mission delivery and the safety of our staff and volunteers,” said USO Chief Operating Officer Alan Reyes.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.