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Maj. Dexter Williams, Preventive Medicine chief at Fort Drum, speaks to frontline workers Feb. 26 at the Post Exchange. Williams talked about COVID-19 and answered questions from the about the virus and vaccinations. (Courtesy Photo)


Preventive medicine chief discusses COVID, vaccination process with Post Exchange staff


Mike Strasser

Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs


FORT DRUM, N.Y. (March 2, 2021) – As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues at Guthrie Ambulatory Health Clinic, Maj. Dexter Williams, Preventive Medicine chief, slipped away for an hour on Feb. 26 to visit the Fort Drum Post Exchange.

But he wasn’t there for a haircut or to shop for sundries.

Patricia Hastings, Exchange general manager, invited Williams to an associates meeting to talk about COVID-19 and to answer questions from the frontline workers about the virus and vaccinations.

“The questions they had ranged from how contract tracing is performed to what happens when a family member is placed on quarantine,” Williams said. “There was also a question regarding the age limit for getting the vaccine, as the concern was when the vaccine would be available to children.”

Hastings said that associates also asked about safety protocols, why people should still avoid large gatherings and the availability of vaccines.

“Maj. Williams highly encouraged the team to receive a vaccine if they are eligible,” Hastings said. “As frontline workers, many Exchange associates have received at least one shot.”

It has been a year since New York reported its first positive case of COVID-19, and still weeks away before the first case would be announced at Fort Drum. Although not a pleasant anniversary to commemorate, Hastings said that the Exchange rose to the challenges presented by the pandemic – such as reduced hours of operations, limiting the number of customers and conducting enhanced cleaning protocols throughout the store.

The Fort Drum team has done an incredible job during trying circumstances,” she said. “Protecting the force is Exchange’s top priority during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Exchange supports preventive measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We have daily meetings to remind everyone of the safety protocols and to stay home if they feel sick.”

Williams said that there have been other requests to speak with units and organizations on post since the vaccination process began, and part of the Fort Drum Medical Activity Department mission is to inform and educate the community.

“We appreciated Maj. Williams for embracing the opportunity to speak to the team,” Hastings said. “The Exchange is truly grateful for the continued support from garrison, and Maj. Williams’ expertise helped ease concerns.”  

Williams said that he was more than happy to share his knowledge with members of the Fort Drum workforce, and he thanked the Exchange team for their service to the community.

“As a Soldier and patron of the Fort Drum Exchange, I’m truly grateful for their service and dedication to the Fort Drum community,” he said. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, they have continued to provide a safe and well-stocked environment for shopping.”