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For hundreds fleeing coronavirus in China, home is now a quarantine zone on California bases

Flu evacuees at Miramar
A charter plane with an unknown number of U.S. Citizens on board returning from China landed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar on Wednesday to begin a 14 day quarantine.
(John Gibbins/San Diego Union-Tribune)

Hundreds of Americans fleeing the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, have arrived at three California military bases.

The travelers are subject to a 14-day federal quarantine — the incubation period for the virus — under orders from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The quarantine order, the CDC’s first in 50 years, has forced the creation of new communities on the bases that are trying to be welcoming to visitors while also working to protect the public’s health from any potential spread of the illness.

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Here’s what we know about the quarantine:

China Outbreak Evacuees California
The Westwind Inn lodging facility at Travis Air Force Base. This facility and other military bases will be the temporary home of hundreds of coronavirus evacuees, who will be quarantined for up to two weeks upon their return to the U.S. from virus-affected areas in China.
(Nicholas Pilch/U.S. Air Force)

Travis Air Force Base

On Wednesday, two jets carrying about 350 Americans arrived at Travis Air Force Base near Vacaville.

One of the aircraft refueled at the base before heading to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego, where it arrived shortly before 10 a.m. Wednesday.

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Travis officials said on Facebook that the evacuees “will be housed at Travis’ Westwind Inn lodging facility. A safety cordon will be established, away from residential housing, to ensure the Travis mission can safely continue, the privacy of the evacuees can be enforced and to protect the health and welfare of our Team Travis community.”

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar

Shortly after touching down, four of 167 passengers who landed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in the San Diego area were transported to local hospitals after showing signs and symptoms of coronavirus infection, the CDC said Wednesday night.

None of the evacuated Americans aboard a commercial airliner from Wuhan showed any symptoms when they boarded the flight.

However, medical screenings performed after their arrival at Miramar found that three adults and one child had a fever or a cough. Additional DNA-based testing at the CDC will be necessary to determine what is causing those symptoms.

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A face mask won’t do much to protect you from the new coronavirus from China. If you want to reduce your risk of getting sick, focus on washing your hands.

March Air Reserve Base

March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County was the first California base to be used for screenings.

A plane carrying a group from Wuhan landed at the base last week. Nearly 200 people remain under quarantine there, where they will be monitored for symptoms until the virus’ 14-day incubation period has ended. An infant was taken to the hospital Monday with virus symptoms, but tests came back negative and the child and a parent were returned to the base.

March has also set up tents on its tarmac in preparation for additional passengers who may be diverted to the base for screenings.

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In a separate incident Monday, another person traveling from mainland China was transferred from Los Angeles International Airport to the base. The traveler will be isolated from the other people at the base and will remain under quarantine for the next few days, authorities said.

Those in the quarantine zones are being fed catered meals: breakfast burritos in the morning and noodles and chicken for dinner. Baby food and kid-friendly options including chicken nuggets are available, as are soda and water. A nonprofit group has provided toys for the children and toiletries to make it feel more like home.

Times staff writer Shalby reported from Los Angeles and San Diego Union-Tribune staff writer Sisson reported from San Diego. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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