The Pentagon is setting up 11 quarantine camps on military bases near major airports across the US in anticipation of an influx of American citizens returning from China in need of monitoring for the deadly coronavirus that is now being called COVID-19.
The 13th US coronavirus case was confirmed in California on Tuesday. The deadly strain, which is now being called COVID-19, has killed 1,107 people and sickened more than 42,000 worldwide since the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in late December.
The Department of Defense approved a request from the Department of Health and Human Services early this month for the possible use of military facilities to accommodate 1,000 people who may have to be quarantined upon arrival from overseas through the end of the month.
Now, with five planes having returned to the US with evacuees from Wuhan in the past two weeks, the number of people detained under quarantine is approaching that originally agreed upon number.
Pentagon officials designated new facilities last week near airports in Hawaii, Illinois, Texas, California, Georgia, New York, Washington state, Washington DC, New Jersey and Michigan to house additional travelers.
The camps will be set up next to 11 major airports around the US. On February 1, the Associated Press reported that they would house as many as 250 people each.
In Wuhan, medical staff are working in full ICUs to care for coronavirus patients in isolation. So far, the virus is not spreading in the US, but hospitals are bracing for a potential influx of patients of the new virus that’s sickened 13 Americans
The facilities are located on the following bases:
- JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii – by Daniel K Inouye International Airport (HNL)
- Great Lakes Training Center Navy Base, Illinois – by O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
- Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, Texas – by Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
- March ARB, California – by Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
- Travis AFB, California – by San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
- Dobbins ARB, Georgia – by Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
- Fort Hamilton, New York – by John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York City
- Naval Base Kitsap, Washington – by Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
- Joint Base Anacostia, Washington DC – by Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)
- Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey – by Newark International Airport (EWR)
- Fort Custer Training Center, Michigan – by Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW)
On February 2, officials announced a federally-mandated 14-day quarantine for any American citizen returning to the US after traveling to Wuhan within the previous two weeks.
Americans returning from China who did not visit Wuhan are screened at one of 11 approved airports and then subject to a self-isolation quarantine in their own home for 14 days – what scientists consider to be the coronavirus incubation period.
Any foreign national who has traveled to China in the last 14 days has been banned from entry.
Some 800 Americans evacuated from Wuhan on government charter flights are currently under federally mandated quarantines at Fort Carson in Colorado and Travis Air Force Base and Marine Corps Station Miramar in California.
The first 195 Americans evacuated from Wuhan, who arrived in the US on a government charter flight on January 29, were finally cleared to leave March Air Reserve Base on Tuesday following a two-week quarantine.
The evacuees were seen throwing their face masks into the air in celebration after passing their final health screenings.
The first 195 Americans evacuated from Wuhan were finally cleared to leave March Air Reserve Base on Tuesday following a two-week quarantine. The evacuees are seen throwing their face masks in celebration after passing final health screenings
The passengers on the first evacuation flight are seen disembarking from the plane on January 29
No cases of coronavirus have thus far been confirmed from any of the US quarantine locations.
On two cruise ships, however, the virus has spread with alarming speed among quarantined passengers. There are now more than 66 cases confirmed on the Diamond Princess, currently docked in Japan.
Among the ship 3,700 ship passengers, 45 Japanese people, three people from the Philippines, four from Australia, one from each Canada and Ukraine and 11 Americans have all been infected.
An American man on the ship, Matthew Smith, spoke to CNBC about the ‘depressing’ experience on Monday.
‘Imagine being trapped in your bathroom,’ Smith, from California, said as he described passing the bleak days away confined in his room.
The Diamond Princess cruise ship is currently under a two-week quarantine after a previous guest, who didn’t exhibit any symptoms on board, tested positive for the coronavirus. Officers in protective gear seen entering the ship on February 7
An American man on the ship, Matthew Smith, said he feels ‘trapped’ aboard the Diamond Princess, which is docked in Japan
At a press briefing on Tuesday, the World Health Organization said it had decided on the name COVID-19 after consulting with the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health.
‘We had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual, or group of people,’ said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
WHO also wanted a name that was ‘pronounceable and related to the disease,’ he said.
The new name comes from ‘coronavirus,’ the type of virus that causes the disease. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause the common cold and some more serious diseases, including SARS, which killed 800 in 2002-2003 and the Middle East respiratory syndrome, which continues to cause sporadic cases and is believed to jump to humans from camels.
Tedros said having a name for the new disease is important to prevent the use of other names that might be stigmatizing.
There are more than 43,000 cases worldwide so far and more than 1,000 deaths as of Tuesday
A traveler in a mask arrives at San Francisco International Airport on January 21 wearing a mask