Two State Department chartered flights have left China and are carrying 300 passengers, who will undergo a 14-day quarantine amid the coronavirus outbreak that started in China and has spread through more than 20 countries.
“The initial flights have departed China for the United States with approximately 300 passengers on board,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. David Eastburn said in a statement Friday. “One of the aircraft will refuel at Travis Air Force Base and continue on to Omaha, Nebraska, via Lackland Air Force Base. The other aircraft is en route to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar via Vancouver, Canada.”
There were no signs of illness among those who flew into Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Dr. Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control’s division of high consequence pathogens and pathology, told the Associated Press. She said fewer than 100 people, including babies, will stay at Lackland, she but did not have an exact number, according to AP. The plane then left Texas and transported people to Omaha, Nebraska, where it landed Friday night. The passengers will be quarantined at a nearby Nebraska National Guard training base.
On Wednesday, 350 evacuees from Wuhan, China also arrived at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and Travis Air Force Base in California. Similarly, 210 evacuees arrived at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, California, on Jan. 29.
Multiple military bases are supporting the Department of Health and Human Services’ efforts to coordinate care and transportation of evacuees, and to halt the spread of the virus in the U.S.
The Pentagon announced Feb. 1 that the Defense Department was ready to help house a total of 1,000 people from China at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and Travis Air Force Base in California, along with Lackland Air Force Base in Texas and with the 168th Regiment, Regional Training Institute at Fort Carson in Colorado.
The Pentagon has since expanded that list and identified the following bases that could provide housing support for individuals traveling through 11 major airports: Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii; Great Lakes Training Center Navy Base in Illinois; Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Texas; Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia; Fort Hamilton in New York; Naval Base Kitsap; Joint Base Anacostia in Maryland; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey; and Fort Custer Training Center in Michigan.
Each of those 11 installations can house up to 20 people during the 14-day quarantine, and are only “tertiary” locations in the event other HHS facilities identified as quarantine locations are overcrowded, the Pentagon said.
Per Pentagon guidance, DoD personnel who have come from China in recent weeks should seek medical attention immediately and should also contact their doctor’s office or emergency room before their arrival to provide a heads up on their symptoms and travel. The same applies to those who have been exposed to someone diagnosed with coronavirus and now have symptoms like a fever.
The World Health Organization said there are more than 28,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide and that the death toll has surpassed 550 as of Feb. 6. There have been more than 200 confirmed cases and one death outside of China. So far, there have been 12 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S.