Upon orders from the CDC, the flight was diverted to March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, California, yesterday evening (Jan. 28th). Before the flight was diverted by the CDC, it made a stop at a private terminal in Alaska. As TET reports:
The Boeing 747 stopped at a private terminal at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Alaska before taking off to its final destination. The plane was slated to land at Ontario International Airport, about 35 miles east of Los Angeles, but was diverted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Curt Hagman, chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors and a commissioner at Ontario airport, said that CDC officials alerted him to the diversion.
After the flight was diverted to the military base, the CDC refused to comment on why the sudden change of plans. However, a statement from the U.S. Department of Defense, via press secretary Alyssa Farah, stated:
March Air Reserve Base and the Department of Defense stand ready to provide housing support to [the Department of Health and Human Services] as they work to handle the arrival of nearly 200 people, including Department of State employees, dependents and US citizens evacuated from Wuhan, China.
Before being diverted, the flight was originally headed for Ontario International Airport in California, which is designated by the federal government as the “official repatriation center” for California, according to news channel KESQ. But the CDC intervened and diverted the flight to the military base instead.
“Shortly after the plane landed personnel in biological hazard suits helped passengers load into buses and emergency vehicles on the tarmac,” reports CNBC.com.
The original plan had been to quarantine incoming passengers at the Ontario facility for up to two weeks. “Before the plane’s arrival itinerary was changed to a March ARB, a CDC official had told CNN the passengers may be forced to stay in isolation between three days and two weeks,” reports KESQ. “It was unclear whether the same procedure would be followed at the base.”
In other words, it now seems possible or even likely that up to 240 Americans who have just returned from the coronavirus pandemic quarantine region of Wuhan will be released into the public population.
Here’s a current map of the outbreak happening in China:
Confirmed: Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency now activated as a “force multiplier” to provide “additional surveillance” alongside the CDC
We now have confirmation that the U.S. military’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) has now been activated, serving as a “force multiplier” to provide “additional surveillance” alongside the CDC, according to a DoD official who spoke with CNBC. Additionally, Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, director of the emerging infectious diseases branch at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, told CNBC:
While typically the CDC is the lead on these things, the military has reference laboratories pretty much on every continent and specifically, we have labs in all of Southeast Asia, so we act as a force multiplier in providing additional surveillance to the CDC’s efforts…
Strangely, the Department of Defense is going out of its way to state that military personnel will not be in contact with evacuees. From DoD press secretary Alyssa Farah:
Health and Human Services (HHS) is responsible for all care of the evacuees, and DoD personnel will not be directly in contact with the evacuees and evacuees will not have access to any base location other than their assigned housing…
Not clear how the CDC can screen incoming Americans if some people show no symptoms during incubation
The CDC says they are screening all returning passengers at multiple stages of the flight. The stop in Alaska was conducted so that the CDC could conduct initial screening of people for possible symptoms, for example.
However, given that the coronavirus exhibits an incubation period of up to 14 days, during which infected patients are contagious even if they show no obvious symptoms, it remains unanswered how the CDC could possibly screen people if they are showing no symptoms.
It was revealed yesterday that the coronavirus can spread through casual contact. It is also documented that around 2% of infected patients show no symptoms such as fever or coughing.
According to TET, the CDC says the incoming Americans will be “monitored for up to two weeks.” Does that mean they will be released into the population? Because there’s nothing from the CDC that describes any sort of ongoing quarantine for those individuals who were diverted to the March Air Reserve Base.