The Pentagon is building 11 quarantine camps on military bases near major airports across the country in anticipation of an influx of American citizens returning from China who could be possible spreaders of deadly coronavirus that is now being called COVID-19.
The extremely infectious virus has killed at least 1,116 people and sickened more than 45,000 worldwide since the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in late December.
The 13th US coronavirus case was confirmed in California on Tuesday, as experts warn the virus could affect 60% of the world population.
DailyMail reports: The Department of Defense approved a request from the Department of Health and Human Services early this month for the possible use of military facilities to accommodate 1,000 people who may have to be quarantined upon arrival from overseas through the end of the month.
Now, with five planes having returned to the US with evacuees from Wuhan in the past two weeks, the number of people detained under quarantine is approaching that originally agreed upon number.
Pentagon officials designated new facilities last week near airports in Hawaii, Illinois, Texas, California, Georgia, New York, Washington state, Washington DC, New Jersey and Michigan to house additional travelers.
The facilities are located on the following bases:
- JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii – by Daniel K Inouye International Airport (HNL)
- Great Lakes Training Center Navy Base, Illinois – by O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
- Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, Texas – by Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
- March ARB, California – by Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
- Travis AFB, California – by San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
- Dobbins ARB, Georgia – by Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
- Fort Hamilton, New York – by John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York City
- Naval Base Kitsap, Washington – by Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
- Joint Base Anacostia, Washington DC – by Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)
- Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey – by Newark International Airport (EWR)
- Fort Custer Training Center, Michigan – by Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW)
On February 2, officials announced a federally-mandated 14-day quarantine for any American citizen returning to the US after traveling to Wuhan within the previous two weeks.
Americans returning from China who did not visit Wuhan are screened at one of 11 approved airports and then subject to a self-isolation quarantine in their own home for 14 days – what scientists consider to be the coronavirus incubation period.
Any foreign national who has traveled to China in the last 14 days has been banned from entry.
Some 800 Americans evacuated from Wuhan on government charter flights are currently under federally mandated quarantines at Fort Carson in Colorado and Travis Air Force Base and Marine Corps Station Miramar in California.
The first 195 Americans evacuated from Wuhan, who arrived in the US on a government charter flight on January 29, were finally cleared to leave March Air Reserve Base on Tuesday following a two-week quarantine.
The evacuees were seen throwing their face masks into the air in celebration after passing their final health screenings.
No cases of coronavirus have thus far been confirmed from any of the US quarantine locations.
On two cruise ships, however, the virus has spread with alarming speed among quarantined passengers. There are now more than 66 cases confirmed on the Diamond Princess, currently docked in Japan.
Among the ship 3,700 ship passengers, 45 Japanese people, three people from the Philippines, four from Australia, one from each Canada and Ukraine and 11 Americans have all been infected.
An American man on the ship, Matthew Smith, spoke to CNBC about the ‘depressing’ experience on Monday.
‘Imagine being trapped in your bathroom,’ Smith, from California, said as he described passing the bleak days away confined in his room.