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Wolfabilene Updates Archives for 2020-06

317th Airlift Wing celebrates historic homecoming at Dyess AFB


A C-130J Super Hercules flies over the flightline at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, June 3, 2020. The 317th Airlift Wing recently finished the first round of the new 4/12 C-130 deployment cycle. The 4/12 deployment cycle allows an entire C-130J airlift squadron and their associated maintenance unit to deploy for four months, which allows Airmen a 12 month dwell time at home station before the next scheduled deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Colin Hollowell)


DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (Dyess AFB) — Since September 11, 2001, the 317th Airlift Wing has consistently deployed to Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa to support war efforts, humanitarian relief and, most recently, a global pandemic. The constant necessity for worldwide tactical airlift support keeps Airmen of the 317th AW and 19th AW from Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, actively supporting efforts around the world.

All Airmen and aircraft from the 317th AW now have six-to-eight month dwell time before the next deployment. This will be the longest period of time that all Airmen have been at home station since the start of the war on terror.

Creating this time at home was an intentional shift away from a split-squadron “4/4” cycle that maintained a constant deployment-centered mindset.


“The previous deployment cycle didn’t really give our Airmen the ability to create stability at home,” said Col. Clint Wilson, 317th Operations Group commander. “It didn’t give our Airmen the opportunity to maximize training while at home because they needed to maximize family time. This impeded our opportunities for other things we do to grow our Airmen.”

The former deployment cycle also wasn’t effective for training 317th AW Airmen to prepare for potential large-scale conflict against future adversaries.

“The 4/4 deployment cycle almost exclusively focused on counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in east Africa and Afghanistan,” said Col. Jeff Menasco, 317th AW commander. “With the new National Defense Strategy that came out in 2018, the Department of Defense was asked to transition the focus to great power conflict.”


In September 2019, the 317th AW initiated a new deployment rotation cycle designed to deploy an entire airlift squadron and an associated aircraft maintenance unit for four months. This allows airlift and maintenance squadrons from both the 317th AW and the 19th AW up to 12 months of dwell time between deployments.

In order to transition from the 4/4 cycle to the 4/12, 317th AW Airmen conducted 60 day rotations to bolster the deployment gaps leading up to the new rotation.

“We were pushing a lot of people out there,” said Col. Don Vandenbussche, 317th Maintenance Group commander. “They deployed a little more frequently to get through that hump to offset all of the timings with the upcoming deployment cycle.


The extra efforts of the 317th AW Airmen that pushed into the 4/12 cycle was imperative to implementing the new deployment incentive.

“It’s important to recognize the Airmen and their families as we surged into the 4/12 deployment construct,” said Menasco. “We did not get a break, we did not take a knee and we deployed a lot. We deployed an entire squadron and the supporting AMU, then we sent the other half out the door and there was no break in between.”

The 317th AW leadership anticipated two key benefits to come from the 4/12 deployment construct; full-spectrum readiness and squadron vitality.

“Full-spectrum readiness is the ability to be fully trained and confident for any fight we may have to execute,” said Menasco. “It’s having the confidence and training to operate in any and all environments.”

Having 99% of the wing at home station for an extended period of time allows 317th AW leadership to conduct extensive and thorough training throughout the wing.


“From a maintenance perspective, I have both AMU’s home so now when we train or do an exercise we can do it on a much larger scale,” said Vandenbussche. “We can get much more consistent training because everybody is here.”

Training and readiness is key, but providing Airmen the opportunity to seek personal growth, professional development and family balance will also benefit the 317th AW and its mission.

“I would define squadron vitality as the unit’s ability to focus on the Airmen as individuals,” said Menasco.

Having more stability at home station better allows Airmen and leadership to develop on personal and professional levels.

“This protected time will be great for the vitality of our Airmen,” said Vandenbussche. “They can now plan out their education, family involvement and their time off without worrying about the next deployment around the corner.”

Providing time for Airmen to focus on individual vitality plays a massive role in the wing’s ability to maintain mission readiness.


“The 4/12 deployment construct creates time. Time in and of itself doesn’t change anything but it gives you the capacity to change things,” said Menasco. “We will fill that time with readiness and vitality by focusing on the mission, our Airmen and their families.”



By: Airman 1st Class Colin Hollowell, 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved

14 new COVID-19 cases in Taylor County, total of 366; 3 new hospitalizations



ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — The Abilene Taylor County Public Health District is reporting 14 new COVID-19 cases.


The 14 new positives and five recoveries bring the total number of active cases to 83, and 366 total positive cases reported in Taylor County this year.


There have been 8,183 tests administered, and 278 have recovered.


Six people are currently hospitalized with the virus in Taylor County.


Further demographic information can be found in the image below:


Latest COVID-19 testing numbers for June 29, 2020


Expanded information on COVID-19 positive cases



By: Martin Mercado

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved

City of Abilene 'will not enforce the Governor's Executive Order' to shut down bars, limit outdoor gatherings


This electron microscope image made available and color-enhanced by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Md., shows Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, orange, isolated from a patient. Research released on Thursday, May 28, 2020 shows how dangerous the coronavirus is for current and former cancer patients. Those who developed COVID-19 were much more likely to die within a month than people without cancer who got it, two studies found. (NIAID/National Institutes of Health via AP)


ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The City of Abilene says they ‘will not enforce the Governor’s Executive Order’ to shut down bars and limit outdoor gatherings.


City Manager Robert Hanna instead encouraged business owners and citizens to follow the orders to the best extent they can. 


Governor Greg Abbott issued the order to all of Texas Friday morning, saying bars must close at 12:00 p.m. and outdoor gatherings must be limited to 100 people unless local governments give approval to larger events.


In light of the order, Abilene City Manager Robert Hanna released a statement that reads in part, “the City of Abilene under the advice of the City Attorney, will not enforce the Governor’s Executive Order, BUT we encourage all business owners and citizens to use common sense, and to follow the Governor’s Executive Orders to the extent they can.”


However, the City says TABC will likely work to enforce the shutdown of local bars.


Outdoor gatherings scheduled for June and July will likely still be able to take place in Abilene, but any other events are subject to cancellation.


Right now, masks are not required but encouraged for those who choose to do so. Social distancing is still recommended and if possible – avoid large crowds.


The following list of some local events are set for June and July:


  • Rock the Swenson House: June 26
  • Big Country Swap Meet: June 26-27
  • Abilene Freedom Festival: July 4


Mayor Anthony Williams, addressing residents on Facebook, further explained the order and how the City of Abilene is dealing with it. He said the local hospitals were at 4 percent capacity.


On Thursday, Hendrick Health System CEO Brad Holland addressed the capacity. He said although we will likely see an increase in positive cases and hospitalizations, Hendrick has “plenty of capacity at this time,” and are holding 15% capacity for future COVID patients.


Mayor Williams said those who have events are asked to email him at to seek guidance.


According to the Mayor, he and health officials will meet next week to further discuss the order and the current status of COVID-19.


Read City Manager Robert Hanna’s full statement below:


The City of Abilene under the advice of the City Attorney, will not enforce the Governor’s Executive Order, BUT we encourage all business owners and citizens to use common sense, and to follow the Governor’s Executive Orders to the extent they can. In regards to bars and restaurants, TABC will likely work to enforce the Governor’s Executive Order. 


Any immediate events scheduled in June and July will likely proceed, but events further out I cannot speak to at this time. All that being said, the City reserves the right to cancel outdoor gatherings over 100 attendees if the public’s health is endangered. We will rely on hospitalizations and infection rates to make these determinations. The message folks need to hear is that they need to use common sense, and be responsible. Avoid large crowds, social distance, if you choose to wear a mask, wear a mask. If you don’t want to wear a mask respect those that do and avoid antagonizing folks or standing or walking within six feet of them. Basically be kind to one another and look out for each other. Pretty simple rules to live by.



By: Erica Garner

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved

Taylor County reports 9 new cases of COVID-19, 71 now active


ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Taylor County is reporting 9 new cases of COVID-19 and 71 are now considered active.


Statistics released Thursday show there have been 327 cases recorded by the Abilene-Taylor County Public Health District to-date and more than 7,800 cases have been administered.


Four patients are hospitalized in Abilene, but the majority of the positive cases are self isolating.


Demographic information and a breakdown of common COVID-19 symptoms among Taylor County patients can be found in the graphics below:





By: Erica Garner

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved

Taylor Co. Commissioners Court decides not to continue the burn ban ahead of 4th of July weekend


burn ban lifted_1491166891322.jpg


ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The Taylor County Commissioners Court decided on a meeting Tuesday morning not to continue the burn ban.


Randy Wilson proposed to extend the burn barn, but no one else voted in favor.


With the fourth of July quickly approaching, patrons can visit their local fireworks stands in Taylor County. 


Any use or selling of fireworks within city limits in Taylor County is strictly prohibited, and any use of fireworks outside of one’s own private property outside of city limits is also prohibited.




Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved

9 new COVID-19 cases in Taylor County, total of 298


ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — The Abilene Taylor County Public Health District is reporting 9 new cases of COVID-19.


The new positive results bring the total number of cases reported in the county to 298.


A total of 7,600 tests have been conducted, and 247 have recovered, bringing the active number of cases to 46.


There are currently three COVID-19 related hospitalizations.


Further demographic information can be found in the image below.


Latest COVID-19 testing numbers as of June 22, 2020


Expanded statistics for COVID-19 cases as of June 22, 2020



Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved

10 new COVID-19 cases reported in Taylor Co.



ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — The Abilene Taylor County Public Health District is reporting 10 new cases of COVID-19.


The 10 new positive results bring the total number of cases reported in the county to 278.


A total of 7,354 tests have been conducted, and 246 have recovered, bringing the active number of cases to 27.


Further demographic information can be found in the image below.




By: Joey Hollingsworth

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved

Gov. Abbott to give update on COVID-19, Texas' hospital capacity Tuesday


AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will be holding a news conference at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Texas Capitol to give an update on the state’s hospital capacity as a spike in COVID-19 cases continues.


Gov. Abbott will be joined by former lawmaker Dr. John Zerwas, Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs of the University of Texas, who is part of the Governor’s supply chain strike force. Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt and Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd will also be there.


Hospitalizations have slowly been increasing since the beginning of the month. According to data from DSHS, 2,326 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized as of June 15. On June 1, there were 1,756 hospitalizations reported.


Back in April, Dr. Zerwas presented the state’s plan to respond if hospitalizations continue to increase. At that time, Texas was at Level 5. For context, there were 826 COVID-19 patients hospitalized on April 4, which was two days after this plan was released.


  • Level 5: Maintain Staffed Beds. This means supporting hospital systems so they can maintain their current capacity.
  • Level 4: Surge to Physical Beds. This aims to enable hospitals to open all physical beds and double the occupancy, which is part of one of the governor’s executive orders.
  • Level 3: Surge Inside Facility: This signals a transition to non-traditional care areas within the hospital, such as an operating room or PACU to care for COVID-19 patients.
  • Level 2: Surge to Adjacent Building. This would mean opening additional capacity in adjacent medical offices or convalescent centers supported by the hospital.
  • Level 1: Surge to Building of Op. This stage would include beds in alternate care sites in remote areas, such as hotels, motels and pop-up hospitals.


In an interview Monday, Gov. Abbott commented on the increase in hospitalizations across the state.


“Even though there are more people who are hospitalized, outcomes remain good,” Abbott said, “But in addition to that, capacity remains plentiful. Even though more hospital beds are occupied by those who have COVID-19, there are an abundant number of hospital beds that are available, whether it be in Lubbock are these large cities, so we will be able to make sure that we can treat and provide health care for anyone who tests positive for COVID-19.”


Right now, there are 51,365 staffed beds in Texas, 14,525 of which are available. There are 1,626 ICU beds available and 5,626 ventilators available as of June 15.


The briefing will be streamed on and on our Facebook page.



By: Maggie Glynn

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved

In rural Texas, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought more accessible mental health care


The coronavirus pandemic has created widespread fear and economic anxiety across Texas, and mental health experts and advocates say rural areas — which already had fewer providers and higher rates of suicide and drug overdoses — could see more severe mental health impacts than the state’s urban areas. They are predicting a lingering wave of trauma and depression even after the pandemic’s immediate effects recede and lockdowns lift.


But it’s not all bad news. Although the pandemic has aggravated existing problems, the speedy rollout of telemedicine may prove to be a boon for rural residents who urgently need mental health care.


“There’s a lot of bad things happening right now because of COVID-19,” said Andy Keller, president and CEO of the Texas-based Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute. “But in some ways, people in rural Texas have better access to health care than they’d ever had before. All the barriers to them accessing physicians across the state have been lifted.”


A view of downtown Moody.

A view of downtown Moody. (Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune)


In April, Gov. Greg Abbott temporarily waived restrictions on telehealth, allowing mental health care providers and local mental health authorities to broadly expand services and collect reimbursement for online appointments more easily. The state also implemented a mental health hotline in March that offers free over-the-phone support and provides resources and information to callers who need help.


At Texas Tech University — which has long been a pioneer in telemedicine — Sarah Wakefield, chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the school’s Health Sciences Center, said she’s seen a “huge spike” in telemedicine appointments since the pandemic began.


Although mental health care can be easier over video calls, Keller says calling in with a cellphone can be just as helpful and doesn't require an internet connection. That’s especially important for rural areas, where another barrier to adequate treatment is lack of broadband access. About 440,000 of the half-million Texas households without access to broadband are in rural Texas.


Barbara Vinson is a Seguin resident and the founder of the Guadalupe County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, where she runs support groups and therapy sessions. When in-person meetings were canceled, she urged members to continue checking in regularly online or by phone.


“The technology part is difficult for some people out here, it’s so new,” Vinson said. “Some people don’t have laptops, they just have flip phones they paid $50 for. So technology is an issue, but they get through it. And with time they’ve gotten more comfortable.”


Vinson regularly calls and emails members to stay in touch. If someone tells her they are having a crisis, she counsels them through it and then offers additional resources. And while she can’t say for sure if there have been more distress calls than usual, the Facebook page she runs has gained dozens of new followers in the past three months.


Now, more than ever, Vinson says her neighbors in Seguin and its outlying areas are hungry for information about mental health resources.


The pandemic has almost certainly exacerbated existing anxiety or depression diagnoses and brought on new ones, said Alison Boleware, a director for the National Association of Social Workers in Texas. Social workers and therapists in the state have their hands full with an influx of both old and new patients.


Experts are anticipating rising cases of depression and suicide, addiction and overdose; Keller calls these the “diseases of despair” that are aggravated by unemployment and economic stagnation. For every 1% increase in unemployment, the Meadows Institute estimates about 60 more people in Texas will die from suicide annually while 100 will die from drug overdoses.


And for rural Texans, the stigma of seeking help for mental issues can also be a significant obstacle. Some Texans still view mental health issues as a moral failing, Boleware said.


“We know there are still some pockets of Texans who might not feel as open to seeking mental health treatment or might not feel comfortable because of how it's viewed in their communities,” Boleware said. “In rural areas, there is a ‘pick yourselves up by the bootstraps’ mentality.’”


That’s something Catherine, who asked not to be identified by her last name, knows all too well. The 45-year-old technical writer was diagnosed with clinical depression as a teenager and said her isolation after stay-at-home orders heightened her anxiety and increased her feelings of loneliness. She lives alone and worries frequently about her teenage daughter and her elderly parents, who live in different parts of the state.


And living in Denison, a town with 20,000 residents about 75 miles north of Dallas, has not helped, Catherine said.


When she lived in New York years ago, “no one would bat an eye if you talked about your therapy at dinner. Whereas here, the opinion would be, ‘What’s wrong with you?’” Catherine said.


In March, Catherine was able to make online appointments with her psychiatrist, who is based in Sherman. She also got a prescription for a new anxiety medication to help control the panic attacks she’s had during the pandemic.


Catherine has had two telehealth appointments since then and says she now prefers them over in-person appointments; for one, she doesn’t have to see anyone in the waiting room.


For now, experts are hopeful for telehealth’s potential to improve mental health care in rural Texas. Keller said that if Abbott’s emergency telemedicine waiver becomes permanent, providers can continue expanding coverage and hopefully reach the historically underserved communities they haven’t been able to penetrate before.


“Bad things happen, and we figure out how to deal with them," Keller said. “This pandemic has been a disruption that in some ways has forced people to do what they should have been doing all along.”


How to get help


Disaster Distress Helpline: Call 800-985-5990, text "TalkWithUs" to 66749, or visit or


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255


Texas COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line: 833-986-1919


Disclosure: Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute for Texas and Texas Tech University have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. 


"In rural Texas, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought more accessible mental health care" was first published at by The Texas Tribune. The Texas Tribune is proud to celebrate 10 years of exceptional journalism for an exceptional state.



By: Raga Justin, Texas Tribune

Copyright © 2020, Abilene Reporter News. All Rights Reserved

3 new positive results, 6 active COVID-19 cases in Taylor Co.


ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — The Abilene Taylor County Public Health District is reporting three new cases of COVID-19.


The health district says there were also five recoveries, bringing the total number of currently active cases to six.


There have been a total of 252 positive cases reported in Taylor County, 6,845 tests conducted, and five deaths.


There is currently no one in Taylor County hospitalized with COVID-19.


Further demographic information can be found in the image below.





By: Joey Hollingsworth

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved

3 new COVID-19 cases in Taylor Co. brings active cases up to 28


ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — The Abilene Taylor County Public Health District is reporting three new cases of COVID-19.


The health district says there were no new recoveries to report.


The three new positive test results bring the total number of reported cases to 245, with 28 of those being active, and one person remaining in the hospital.


There have been 212 recoveries and 5,731 tests conducted.


Further demographic information can be found in the graphic below:





By: Joey Hollingsworth

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved

No new COVID-19 cases in Taylor County, total remains 241



ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The City of Abilene and the Taylor-County Public Health District report no new positive cases of COVID-19. The total remains 241 with 25 active cases.


Most of those patients, 211, have recovered. However, 25 patients are currently in self-isolation, and one patient is hospitalized. Five patients in Taylor County have died.


Statistics show that most patients are white and under the age of 50, and most have contracted the virus by coming into contact with a confirmed positive case.


Sixty-six cases have been labeled as ‘community spread’, and only 8 cases are related to travel.


Common symptoms of COVID-19 locally include fever and cough. These ailments have been presenting in at least two-thirds of the positive cases.


Latest COVID-19 testing numbers as of June 2, 2020


Expanded statistics for COVID-19 cases as of June 2, 2020





Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved

City of Abilene extends COVID-19 disaster declaration



ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The City of Abilene has extended their COVID-19 disaster declaration.


During a special-called city council meeting Monday morning, council members voted almost unanimously to extend the current declaration.


Councilman Weldon Hurt was the only member against the extension.


According to Mayor Anthony Williams, the declaration will allow the city to receive funds from FEMA if available.


The declaration was accepted following the Governor’s Executive Order GA-23, which supersedes any conflicting order issued by local officials in response to the COVID-19 disaster.


A local order may not restrict essential services or reopened services allowed by the Governor’s orders, it may not allow gatherings prohibited by the Governor’s orders, and it may not expand the list of essential services or the list or scope of reopened services as set forth in the Governor’s orders.



By: Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved

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