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2 California bases picked as possible coronavirus quarantine sites

Wuhan evacuations
A plane carrying U.S. citizens evacuated from Wuhan, China, because of the deadly coronavirus lands at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside on Wednesday.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times )

The Defense Department said Saturday it has agreed to house up to 1,000 people who may need to be quarantined upon arrival from overseas travel because of the coronavirus and that two of the four facilities selected are in California.

Travis Air Force Base in Solano County and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego County are the two California sites that were selected, Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement. The others are Lackland Air Force Base in Texas and the 168th Regiment Regional Training Institute in Colorado.

American citizens returning from mainland China will be subject to 14-day quarantines starting Sunday, the Trump administration announced Friday.

Health and Human Service officials had requested the Defense Department provide facilities capable of housing at least 250 people in individual rooms through Feb. 29, the statement said. The Defense Department will assist with housing only; Health and Human Services personnel will be responsible for all other care and transportation of any evacuees, according to the statement.

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“The department’s primary responsibility is the safety of our force, our families and our base communities,” Mitchell said.

Any evacuees housed at the bases will be monitored for 14 days, and if they are identified as being ill, Health and Human Services will arrange to transport them to a hospital, according to the statement. They were will be kept apart from military personnel.

In a news release Saturday, Travis Air Force Base officials emphasized that the situation was still evolving.

“Travis airmen and personnel will not be directly in contact with the evacuees and evacuees will not have access to any base location other than their assigned housing,” the release said.

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The new strain of coronavirus has killed more than 300 people since it emerged in Wuhan, China, in late December, and there are now eight confirmed cases in the United States and more than 12,000 worldwide. There are three confirmed cases in California.

The announcement came a day after growing global health concerns over the outbreak prompted the Trump administration to declare a public health emergency and impose restrictions on people traveling from China to the United States.

Under the flight restrictions announced Friday, people who have traveled in Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, within the last 14 days will be subject to a two-week quarantine to prevent the virus from spreading further, officials said. Exceptions will be made for immediate family members of American citizens and permanent residents. Foreign nationals who recently visited China won’t be allowed to enter the U.S. at all.

Also on Friday, the U.S> Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ordered a quarantine of all 195 people from Wuhan, China, who were evacuated to March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County this week after fleeing the coronavirus outbreak. The mandatory quarantine was the CDC’s first in more than 50 years.

Times staff writer David Cloud contributed to this report.


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