9:30 p.m. Update:
SAN ANTONIO – As of around 9:30 p.m. Sunday, officials say it’s still unclear how many Grand Princess cruise ship passengers will be at each of the four quarantine sites, including Joint Base San Antonio - Lackland.
JBSA-Lackland posted on Facebook Sunday night and said both the Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are in the process of returning all of the passengers to the U.S. from the cruise ship.
The cruise ship will dock temporarily in a non-passenger port in San Francisco Bay, officials say. Upon docking, the evacuees will then be screened by HHS and the Centers for Prevention and Disease Control.
After the screening, JBSA-Lackland officials say only asymptomatic passengers will be taken to the federal military installations for COVID-19 testing and a 14-day quarantine.
HHS has notified JBSA-Lackland that nearly 1,000 passengers that are California residents are expected to undergo the quarantine at Travis Air Force Base and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
Non-California residents will be taken to JBSA-Lackland or Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia for quarantine.
The final list of DoD locations and the number of passengers at each base are still being determined, according to JBSA-Lackland officials.
With this being said, it’s still unclear how many passengers will be coming to JBSA-Lackland.
This is a developing story and we’ll bring more details as they become available.
4 p.m. Update:
Joint Base San Antonio - Lackland is modifying its health protection procedures for personnel as Grand Princess cruise ship evacuees prepare to arrive at its quarantine site.
Evacuees coming from the cruise ship to JBSA-Lackland are all without symptoms of the coronavirus, according to San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg.
However, JBSA-Lackland is still working to prepare its own staff with additional health protection measures as a safety precaution.
- Frequent hand-washing
- Consistent use of hand sanitizer
- Wiping down common-use items with disinfectant
- Covering mouths/noses with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing
- Staying home if they are sick
JBSA personnel are urged to stay informed on the coronavirus through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announcements, routine health alerts, regular preparedness activities and their chains of command, the Facebook post says.
3 p.m. Update:
Evacuees coming from the Grand Princess cruise ship to Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland are all without symptoms of the coronavirus, according to San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg.
City officials received word Saturday night of the evacuees’ upcoming arrival in San Antonio, the mayor said in a Facebook post on Sunday. However, no set date has yet been announced on when they will arrive at JBSA-Lackland.
It’s also unclear approximately how many evacuees will be coming into San Antonio.
The vast majority of the evacuees are Texas residents and city officials have been assured all are without coronavirus symptoms, Mayor Nirenberg says.
Still, officials say each evacuee will be tested for the coronavirus when they arrive to Lackland and during their time in quarantine.
The mayor says going forward, the city will be working with federal health officials to keep the quarantine from exposing the public.
The rest of the mayor’s statement can be read below:
"We are working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and have asked them to keep this federal operation on federal ground with federal resources. This is critical so that we keep our local hospitals and medical capacity at heightened readiness for any potential spread of COVID-19 locally. To date, there are zero confirmed cases of community-transmitted COVID-19 in San Antonio or Bexar County.
Throughout the weekend I have been coordinating with our area congressional delegation and the Governor’s Office to ensure our requests are met, and I’m pleased that we are united in those efforts. We are working with the federal administration, but we are also holding all accountable to keep the quarantine from exposing the public. I reserve all tools available to protect the residents of San Antonio.
We will continue to prioritize the utmost safety for the residents of San Antonio and exhibit compassion for these evacuated Americans who deserve to come home for proper care. I will continue to provide critical updates as I receive more information."
11:05 a.m. Update:
Officials say the coronavirus quarantine passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship will be quarantined at four federal military sites, including Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.
According to a release from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the ship will dock temporarily in a non-passenger port in San Francisco Bay. The passengers will then be transferred to federal military installations for medical screening, coronavirus testing and a 14-day quarantine.
Nearly 1,000 passengers who are California residents will be quarantined at Travis Air Force Base and Miramar Naval Air Station, officials said. The remaining passengers, who are residents of states outside of California, will be quarantined at JBSA-Lackland in San Antonio or Dobbins Air Force Base in Georgia.
During the quarantine, officials say the evacuees will be monitored for symptoms of COVID-19.
The exact number of evacuees coming to JBSA-Lackland has not yet been released, but there were about 3,500 passengers on the cruise ship. Governor Greg Abbott’s office has indicated that the evacuees coming here include about 90 Texans.
The Department of State says it is currently working with the home countries of several hundred other passengers “to arrange for repatriation."
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) released a statement Sunday afternoon, saying his top priority is to keep Bexar County residents safe throughout this process.
The full statement can be read below:
“Public safety of Bexar County residents is my top concern. While appropriate that Texans are helping Texans, San Antonio has been placed on the front lines of this pandemic without adequate federal support. It is essential that these additional evacuees be confined to Lackland for all testing and treatment rather than burdening local hospitals, which are preparing for any potential community spread. Contrary to President Trump’s grandiose claim on Friday, San Antonio currently has capacity to test only a modest number of individuals. This lack of testing capability is jeopardizing public health across America.”
More coronavirus quarantine patients are coming to Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, as announced by Governor Greg Abbott’s communications director.
The passengers will be coming from the Grand Princess cruise ship in California, where more than 3,500 people are stuck aboard and at least 21 of them are infected with the coronavirus, according to a CNN report.
The governor’s office didn’t specify exactly how many evacuees would be housed at Lackland, but did say that 90 of them are Texans.
It’s unclear when the passengers will arrive at JBSA-Lackland.
After Governor Abbott spoke with Vice President Pence, officials say it was decided that the passengers would be taken to JBSA-Lackland and not released into the general public.
All of the passengers will stay at JBSA-Lackland under quarantine until they are cleared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Once the passengers are cleared, officials say the Texans will be released to return home and the non-Texans will be able to return to their home state using the same protocol as the passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
The full statement, on behalf of Governor Abbott, can be read below:
“Governor Abbott has spoken with Vice President Pence regarding the repatriation of American citizens, including approximately 90 Texans, to Lackland Air Force Base from the Grand Princess Cruise ship off the coast of California. These passengers will not be released into the general public. All of the repatriated citizens will remain at Lackland under quarantine until they clear the revised and heightened testing protocol to ensure they are not affected by the COVID-19 virus. Once cleared, Texans will be released to return home while non-Texans will be safely transported to their home state using the same public safety protocol used for the Diamond Princess passengers who were previously quarantined at Lackland."
According to a CNN report, the passengers from the Grand Princess were traveling for two weeks from San Francisco to Hawaii until officials learned a California man that traveled on the ship last month tested positive for coronavirus.
The man died this week from the disease, per CNN.
There are several coronavirus cases in Texas, including six presumptive positive cases in Fort Bend County, two cases in Harris County, one confirmed and one presumptive positive case in Houston, one possible case “under investigation” in Montgomery County, and nine in San Antonio.
At one time, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in San Antonio had peaked at 11, but two of those patients were cleared by the CDC and released to return home on Friday.
The San Antonio patients are Americans who contracted the virus in Asia and were evacuated to quarantine at JBSA-Lackland in February. One of those patients was prematurely released into the community for 12 hours last week, prompting a local health emergency.
JBSA-Lackland housed 235 coronavirus evacuees for quarantine earlier this year. All but nine with confirmed coronavirus were released after their quarantine period.
This is a developing story and we’ll bring more updates as they become available.
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