Miramar Marine base to serve as quarantine center for passengers from China

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – American citizens on a flight from China are expected to arrive Monday at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar under a temporary federal quarantine, Rep. Scott Peters said Sunday.

A base spokesman and Peters’ office said they had not received word on the time of the flight into the San Diego area.

In preparation for the repatriated Americans, the base’s commanding officer, Col. Charles B. Dockery, sent a letter to all base personnel and their families Monday preparing them for what he termed “minor changes to daily life around the base.”

Dockery said Miramar’s role was to assist the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in a dignified repatriation process.

“There are several pieces of information that I can give you that are important,” he wrote. “All repatriates going through the quarantine process have been screened multiple times by U.S. medical professionals and do not display symptoms of the coronavirus. Repatriates will be confined throughout quarantine and there will be no contact with DOD personnel. I cannot give you a timeframe for completion, but what I know is that the quarantine duration is 14 days. Finally, you should know that any person exhibiting symptoms during the quarantine period will be transferred off-station for care.”

The Department of Defense released footage of the quarantined citizens’ accommodations in the base’s “Consolidated Bachelor Quarters.” The hotel-like accommodations are capable of housing at least 250 people in individual rooms through Feb. 29.

The Defense Department on Saturday approved the use of additional military facilities across the country, including MCAS Miramar, to serve as repatriation centers for U.S. diplomats and American citizens returning from China who may have come in contact with the coronavirus.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved the request from the Department of Health and Human Services.

The other bases are Travis Air Force Base in Northern California; the 168th Regiment, Regional Training Institute, in Fort Carson, Colorado; and Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

HHS is responsible for providing medical and standard care, transportation and security for evacuees.

The passengers arriving at Miramar on Monday have already been screened twice for signs of the virus, according to base officials. All passengers will be held on the military base to undergo an additional 14 days of screening to ensure they do not pose a health risk to the public.

“As we continue to learn more, I urge everyone to follow CDC guidelines,” Rep. Peters said. “There have been no confirmed cases on the virus within San Diego, Poway or Coronado.”

Passengers will be provided food, water, lodging and sundries while on the base from Health and Human Services and receive medical care if required, according to 2nd. Lt. Shawn Doublet, deputy director of communications at Miramar.

The U.S. State Department has issued its most serious travel advisory, warning Americans not to travel to China. Delta, American and United airlines also announced they will temporarily halt all of their flights to mainland China due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The outbreak was first detected in December in the industrial city of Wuhan in the Hubei province of central China. Since then, more than 9,800 cases have been reported in China, with at least 360 deaths, and the virus has been confirmed in patients in a handful of other nations, including the United States.

Eleven cases have been confirmed in the United States — including one in Los Angeles County and one in Orange County. The CDC on Thursday morning confirmed the first person-to-person infection in the United States, involving a husband and wife in Chicago.

The World Health Organization declared the outbreak an international public health emergency.

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