Grand Princess cruise ship passengers arrive at MCAS Miramar for coronavirus quarantine
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – A “small group” of passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship, on which at least 21 people tested positive for coronavirus, arrived Tuesday evening at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar to begin a two-week quarantine period.
According to the air base, “a larger, second arrival (is) expected sometime on March 11.”
It was not immediately known exactly how many passengers from the cruise ship, which was being held off the coast of Northern California before being allowed to dock in Oakland Monday, will be temporarily housed at Miramar.
Roughly 3,500 people were aboard the cruise ship, with at least 1,000 of them Californians.
While some of the California residents will be housed at Miramar, others will be held at Travis Air Force Base northeast of Oakland.
No details about the passengers’ travel plans were released, but Fox5 reported that the first group was expected to arrive in San Diego between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m.
Cruise ship passengers who are residents of other states are expected to be taken to Joint Base San Antonio Lackland in Texas or Dobbins Air Force Base in Georgia.
This will be second time Miramar has been used as a quarantine facility due to the coronavirus. More than 200 people who were evacuated from Wuhan, China — the epicenter of the outbreak — were housed at the facility last month. Two of those people eventually tested positive for the virus, but they were hospitalized and have since recovered and were released.
On Monday, San Diego County health officials confirmed the county’s first presumptive positive case of coronavirus in a local resident, who is being treated at Scripps Green Hospital.
The case is considered a presumptive positive until test results are confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Scripps has taken precautionary measures and sent any staff who may have been exposed to the illness to home quarantine with hospital support.
“Scripps Green Hospital and the adjacent Scripps Clinic Torrey Pines are safe for patient care and all appointments and procedures are continuing as usual at both facilities,” according to a hospital statement.
Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s health officer, said the patient is a woman in her 50s, and the infection is related to “overseas travel.” County officials did not specify what country the patient had visited, but the location did not subject her to automatic 14-day quarantine when she returned — an indication she did not travel to high-danger countries such as China or Italy.
Wooten said the patient is hospitalized and “doing well.” She said health officials are continuing to investigate to determine who may have come into contact with the woman.
Dr. Eric McDonald of the county’s Epidemiology Immunization Branch said there is a “household contact,” and that person is under a self- quarantine, and some health care workers may have been exposed. McDonald said the patient became sick and was hospitalized, and eventually met the criteria to be tested for coronavirus, leading to the positive result.
He said there is not believed to have been any contact with the “general public.”
Although the patient is considered the county’s first coronavirus case, the illness has had a presence in the San Diego area. Last week, authorities confirmed that a person who works at an AT&T retail store in Chula Vista had tested positive for the illness, prompting the temporary closure of some AT&T stores in the area. That patient was not considered a San Diego County case because the person actually lives in Orange County.
Meanwhile, UC San Diego announced it will move all lecture and discussion courses online starting March 25, due to fears of the coronavirus spreading.
The school also advised that events expected to have more than 100 people will be canceled, and any campus tours or other events that bring visitors to campus will be canceled for groups of more than 15 people.
Athletic events on campus will continue as scheduled but spectators will not be permitted, according to UCSD.