SAN ANTONIO – Only Texas residents will be kept for the full length of their quarantine at JBSA-Lackland going forward, while residents of other states will be moved closer to their homes, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said late Wednesday afternoon.
Nirenberg announced the change in a Facebook post following a phone call with members of the area congressional delegation and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“They’ve informed me that only Texans will be housed at the Lackland quarantine for over 72 hours. Those who are not Texans will be moved closer to their respective homes for the remainder of their quarantines, in accordance with communications with the Governor,” Nirenberg said in the Facebook post. “This is being done with respect to concerns that San Antonio officials have voiced about capacity at our local health facilities.”
Additional flights with Texans and non-Texans alike are expected in the coming days as the evacuees are shuffled around. The mayor said all flights will be in and out of Joint Base San Antonio.
The move follows HHS’s agreement not to send non-Texan quarantine patients to state and local hospitals any longer. Patients who tested positive for the novel coronavirus during their 14-day quarantine period had previously been treated at the Texas Center for Infectious Disease, a state-run facility.
However, in a briefing to city council members Wednesday morning, City Manager Erik Walsh said “The governor has taken the position that the individuals not from Texas - he has not given permission to the the federal government to take non-Texans to TCID, which leads to the question ‘well, where are they going to go?’’”
A spokesman for Gov. Greg Abbott said in an emailed statement earlier Wednesday “Governor Abbott has been assured that no one who is not a Texan will be released to a local or state health facility so as not take to away resources from Texans who have or may contract the coronavirus or are dealing with other health issues. HHS also assured the Governor that they are actively working to send non-Texans to their home states as quickly as possible so they can receive care there. Texas is grateful to HHS for working to resolve this issue quickly and effectively.”
The spokesman confirmed this had been at Abbott’s request.
Of the 98 Grand Princess cruise ship passengers who arrived Tuesday night, 24 are Texans, the Mayor’s office said.
Any symptomatic Texans under quarantine at JBSA-Lackland would still be treated at TCID, Nirenberg said.