Evac­uees ‘re­lieved’ about mil­i­tary base quar­an­tine

Antelope Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE - By AMY TAXIN

RIVER­SIDE — Nearly 200 Amer­i­cans evac­u­ated from China be­cause of the new virus are “very re­lieved’ to be quar­an­tined at a mil­i­tary base in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia for two weeks, one of them said Fri­day.

“All of us re­ally want to stay here and make sure we’re all med­i­cally clear and the pub­lic safe,” said Matthew L. Mc­Coy, a theme park de­signer who lives in China.

Mc­Coy is among the 195 Amer­i­cans who re­turned on a char­ter flight ear­lier this week from Wuhan, the Chi­nese city at the cen­ter of the out­break. Ini­tially, health of­fi­cials asked them to stay at March Air Re­serve Base in River­side for up to three days of mon­i­tor­ing and test­ing.

On Fri­day, the gov­ern­ment or­dered them into quar­an­tine for two weeks. Health of­fi­cials be­lieve it can take up to two weeks for some­one who is in­fected to get sick. So far there’s been no sign of ill­ness.

It was the first fed­eral or­der since 1963, when a woman was quar­an­tined af­ter she re­turned from a trip to Swe­den dur­ing a small­pox out­break, and she could not prove that she had been vac­ci­nated.

“We un­der­stand this ac­tion may seem dras­tic. We would rather be re­mem­bered for over­re­act­ing than un­der­re­act­ing,” said Dr. Nancy Mes­son­nier of the Cen­ters for Disease Con­trol and Preven­tion.

Later Fri­day, the gov­ern­ment de­clared a pub­lic health emer­gency and said

any other Amer­i­cans re­turn­ing to the U.S. from Hubei prov­ince, which in­cludes Wuhan, will also be quar­an­tined for two weeks. The State Depart­ment is plan­ning more flights to bring Amer­i­cans out of Wuhan.

Mc­Coy lives in Shang­hai but got stuck in Wuhan dur­ing a busi­ness trip when Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties shut down the city of 11 mil­lion people be­cause of the out­break. Other evac­uees in­clude U.S. gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees and their fam­i­lies.

“Ev­ery­body was very re­lieved” about the quar­an­tine or­der, Mc­Coy said by tele­phone. “We wanted to make sure all the tests were done first.”

At the mil­i­tary base, the evac­uees are stay­ing in ho­tel-style hous­ing and have spent time walk­ing and ex­er­cis­ing, some wear­ing masks, said Jose Ar­ballo Jr., a spokesman for the county’s pub­lic health agency.

As of Fri­day, none of the evac­uees had shown signs of ill­ness, he said. The CDC said test re­sults are still com­ing in for the group; all have been neg­a­tive so far.

One per­son tried to leave the base Wed­nes­day night and was quar­an­tined by the county. The CDC’s Dr. Martin Cetron on Fri­day said that in­ci­dent did not drive the de­ci­sion for the fed­eral quar­an­tine.

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