Cruise ship passenger quarantined at JBSA-Lackland tests positive for COVID-19

Only person that has tested positive among the group of passengers so far, officials say

Passengers evacuated from the Grand Princess cruise ship get off a charter flight from California's Oakland International Airport after it arrived at Kelly Field, an enclave of San Antonio, Texas, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. It was the first of two planeloads of ship passengers to make the deliveries Tuesday night. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 380 Grand Princess passengers are expected to be quarantined at the adjoining Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. (Bob Owen/The San Antonio Express-News via AP) (Bob Owen, ©2020 San Antonio Express-News)

SAN ANTONIO – A Grand Princess cruise ship passenger at JBSA-Lackland in San Antonio has tested positive for COVID-19, officials told KSAT Saturday afternoon.

Joey Smith, a spokesperson for the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said the patient, an American, was taken off of the base and is being treated for the new respiratory disease at “a Texas health care facility.” Officials have not released the name of the facility.

The patient is the first person that has tested positive for COVID-19 among the 149 Grand Princess cruise ship passengers that are currently quarantined at the San Antonio military base, officials said.

The case was announced hours after San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg confirmed the city’s second travel-related case of the new coronavirus, separate from the military base.

Patient in San Antonio’s second travel-related COVID-19 case at Methodist Hospital

The passengers left the ship earlier this week, and are currently undergoing a 14-day quarantine at Lackland on the Southwest Side. Nirenberg has said cases at JBSA-Lackland pose little to no risk to the general public.

Grand Princess cruise ship evacuees arrive at JBSA-Lackland

All patients will be monitored for symptoms and will be offered COVID-19 testing. Those that test positive or develop flu-like symptoms will be taken to non-quarantine sites for the rest of the duration, according to health officials.

Most, if not all, of the evacuees at JBSA-Lackland live in Texas.

Previously, an additional 230 American evaucees had been quarantined at the base. Those people were flown back into the country in February from Wuhan, China, where the virus first spread, and from the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan.

Of those first two groups at Lackland, 11 tested positive for the virus and were treated. At least three have recovered and been released as of this week.

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The group of evacuees now undergoing quarantine at Lackland is one of four across the nation. As of Saturday, 867 passengers are staying at Travis Air Force Base and 489 at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California. And a total of 497 passengers are being housed at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia.

However, the number of passengers at each quarantine facility could change, pending on their health conditions and whether they can transfer to their home states for quarantine, officials say.

Some states are allowing residents to return home to complete their quarantine, some are requiring residents to receive a negative COVID-19 test before returning home and some prefer that they stay at their current quarantine site for all 14 days, HHS says.

We’ll bring more updates as they become available.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.


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About the Authors:

Cody King is a digital journalist for KSAT 12. She previously worked for WICS/WRSP 20 in Springfield, Illinois.

Kolten Parker is digital executive producer at KSAT. He is an amateur triathlete, enjoys playing and watching soccer, traveling and hanging out with his wife.