Some of the Americans fleeing the coronavirus outbreak in China will fly into a San Diego military base this week, congressional leaders announced Sunday.
According to a statement issued by Rep. Scott Peters, who represents San Diego’s 52nd Congressional District, the group will arrive at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and be quarantined for 14 days to ensure they do not pose a health risk to the public. The statement initially said passengers would arrive Monday, but Peters’ staff has since said the arrival date and number of passengers are unknown.
“I will continue to monitor the situation closely, and I am requesting a public briefing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Peters said in the statement.
U.S. health officials declared a public health emergency Friday and requested that military facilities, capable of housing at least 250 people in individual rooms, be used to accommodate those who might need to be quarantined.
In response to the request, the U.S. Department of Defense approved Saturday the use of four military facilities throughout the country, including Miramar, to accept and temporarily house U.S. diplomats and citizens returning from China who may have been exposed to the illness, which has sickened more than 14,500 people in Asia and killed at least 300.
The other three are the 168th Regiment, Regional Training Institute, Fort Carson, Colo.; Travis Air Force Base in California; and the Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.
The coronavirus outbreak was first detected in December in the industrial city of Wuhan, in the Hubei province of central China.
The State Department is warning Americans not to travel to China and to consider leaving if they are already there. There have been nine confirmed cases in the U.S., including one in Los Angeles, one in Orange, and two each in Santa Clara and San Benito, Calif.
According to Peters’ statement, the passengers who arrive at Miramar will already have been screened twice for signs of the flu-like virus, which causes pneumonia and other respiratory problems, with their additional 14-day quarantine ensuring their reentry will not lead to further cases.
“As we continue to learn more, I urge everyone to follow CDC guidelines,” Peters said. “There have been no confirmed cases of the virus within San Diego, Poway or Coronado.”
Officials at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar said Saturday the passengers would be housed and fed while at the base and receive any needed medical care. The Health and Human Services Department would be responsible for all transportation and security of the evacuees.
Nearly 200 Americans already are quarantined at the March Air Reserve Base in Riverside after being evacuated from Wuhan. None has shown signs of illness, but symptoms can take up to two weeks to manifest.
Schroeder writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.