On Saturday, Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio announced its selection by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to quarantine individuals arriving from China who may have been exposed to the deadly coronavirus.
In an official statement from the Joint Base located in San Antonio, Lackland says it is capable of providing housing to at least 250 of the approximately 1,000 people who have been evacuated in a four-week time frame.
“In support of the Department of Health and Human Services request to the DOD to provide facilities capable of housing at least 250 people in individual rooms through February 29, 2020, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland was selected,” the Air Force base said.
“JBSA personnel will not be directly in contact with the evacuees, as well as evacuees will not have access to any base location other than their assigned lodging,” the statement continues.
Once admitted, the average quarantine time for those admitted is two weeks.
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg further attempted to mitigate any concerns about threats to public health and safety saying, “We have been told that these individuals have no symptoms of the virus and pose no risk to our community.”
“We should all be comforted by the extra precautions being taken by federal, state and local health officials. We do not currently have any individuals diagnosed with the coronavirus here in San Antonio, and our Metro Health Department will continue to monitor the situation and exercise an abundance of caution,” Mayor Nirenberg continued.
Other bases also selected as quarantine sites by HHS and approved by the Department of the Defense (DOD) include Fort Carson in Colorado, Travis Air Force Base in California, and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California.
To date, there are eleven cases of the coronavirus that have been confirmed in the United States, none of which have been in Texas after two students at Texas A&M and Baylor University tested negative for the virus.
To date, more than 360 deaths have been reported in China as a result of the virus.
Globally, more than 17,00 cases have been reported across more than 20 countries with the vast majority in China.
In light of this, the State Department recently issued a Level 4 travel advisory for China, cautioning the public against traveling to the region.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also urged against travel to China for nonessential reasons, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a public health emergency on account of the virus.
Correction: In the original version of this article, it was stated that there are eight confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States. There are, in fact, now eleven confirmed cases as of February 3, 2020.
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Sarah McConnell is a reporter for The Texan. Previously, she worked as a Cyber Security Consultant after serving as a Pathways Intern at the Department of Homeland Security – Citizenship and Immigration Services. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Texas A&M as well as her Master of Public Service and Administration degree from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M. In her free time, Sarah is an avid runner, jazz enthusiast, and lover of all things culinary.