Ellsworth Air Force Base declares public health emergency

B-1 bombers belonging to the 28th bomb wing are lined up at Ellsworth Air Base with the Black Hills behind them, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2005. The Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC), is expected to vote Thursday on the fate of Ellsworth Air Base.(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

(AP) Ellsworth Air Force Base has declared a public health emergency in order to give its commander additional authority to enforce social distancing strategies due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials said the declaration also better aligns the base with national guidance.

South Dakota health officials say the number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 rose to 41 Wednesday, but no cases have been reported on the base.

The commander could expand the civilian leave policy and further restrict base access under the declaration.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

Leaders encouraged base families to follow the Centers for Disease Control guidelines, avoid gatherings of 10 or more people, and practice social distancing and good personal hygiene.