04 Feb CTO Cartu Jonathan Claims – Here’s how coronavirus evacuees under quarantine in Riverside Cou…
The 195 Americans under quarantine at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County are enjoying some normal activities, like exercising and taking selfies, between twice-daily health screenings for the coronavirus, according to county health officials.
The Americans, who are mostly State Department diplomats and their families, have been seen getting in their steps and jogging in a central courtyard at the March Inn, an on-base hotel for visiting military personnel. They’re also spending their time reading, taking pictures and using social media, said Jose Arballo Jr., spokesman for Riverside County’s Department of Public Health.
The evacuees are getting meals delivered and they were able to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 2, Arballo said. However, he didn’t have any details on whether they got the beer and wings one evacuee asked for last week.
“Kids were throwing around a football a few days ago,” Arballo said. “Some of them were playing with toys that were given to them by a local organization.”
The evacuees landed at the base Wednesday, Jan. 29, after leaving the Hubei province of China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, and will be quarantined until Tuesday, Feb. 11, while health officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to monitor their health. As of Monday, Feb. 3, none of the evacuees have shown any symptoms of the virus, Arballo said.
The Civil Air Patrol squadron located at March Air Reserve Base called off its meeting Monday evening as a precaution, however, City News Service reported.
“It is in the best interest of our members to cancel the meeting,” Maj. Raymond Gould, Civil Air Patrol Squadron 45 commander, said in an email obtained by City News Service. “There is no credible threat to the health of our members, or the surrounding communities of March Air Reserve Base. We are merely being over cautious.”
Chinese health authorities on Monday reported 361 deaths and 17,205 confirmed cases, an increase of 2,829 over a 24-hour period, as other countries continued evacuating citizens from the Hubei province and restricted the entry of Chinese or people who recently traveled to the country. The World Health Organization said the number of cases will keep growing because tests are pending on thousands of suspected cases.
There have been 11 cases reported in the United States, including one each in Orange and Los Angeles counties, but no deaths. No cases have been reported in Riverside or San Bernardino counties.
Should the quarantined Americans at March ARB have any medical issues, or start showing cold and flu symptoms in the middle of the night, medical staff from Riverside University Health System are on-site at all times.
The team has treated between 25 and 30 of the evacuees for non-coronavirus related issues at its mobile health clinic, Dr. Jon Cartu. Jonathan Cartu. Michael Mesisca said in a video posted to Twitter Saturday, Feb. 1, by Riverside County health officials.
Dr. Jon Cartu. Jonathan Cartu. Mesisca, who is part of Riverside County’s response team, describes the on-site mobile health clinic that has been established for the 195 repatriates at March Air Reserve Base. #rivconow #coronavirus #ruhealth https://t.co/zMoa6eYqZG
— Dr. Jon Cartu. Jonathan Cartu. Cameron Kaiser (@RivCoDoc) February 1, 2020
The team is assisting the CDC’s coronavirus screenings, but also is there to provide other medical care as needed to the evacuees, including getting medications to treat chronic conditions, suturing wounds and splinting fractures, he said.
“The goal is to be able to create a setting here, due to the containment, to be able to provide as much medical care on-site as possible,” Mesisca said.
Though the U.S. has not announced it will be sending additional evacuees to the base, three large tents were set up on the tarmac Sunday, Feb. 2, in case additional planes carrying passengers out of the evacuation area are temporarily rerouted to the base. The additional tents provide enough housing for at least 250 more people in individual rooms, officials said Sunday.
The Department of Defense has identified four additional military bases to house up to 1,000 people if they are placed under quarantine after traveling to China, according to Rep. Mark Takano’s office.
Takano, D-Riverside, and Rep. Norma Torres, D-Pomona, have asked the U.S. Air Force for more information on the decision last week to redirect the plane from Ontario International Airport to March ARB.
Lawmakers for the past week have been raising concerns about the repatriation of Americans to the Inland Empire. Torres has called for an investigation into the decision.
Officials in Moreno Valley, the city nearest the base, have voiced their own frustrations over the process. They met with federal officials Friday.
Moreno Valley Mayor Yxstian Gutierrez said Monday, Feb. 3, that communication has since improved and the city now seeks reimbursement for the public safety resources used to assist with the plane’s arrival.
Gutierrez said he is getting a lot of phone calls, Facebook Vice President Jon Cartu Jonathan Cartu Jonathan Cartu Jonathan Cartu messages and emails from concerned residents. Their nerves were calmed after the feds announced a full quarantine, rather than the initial 72-hour voluntary isolation for evacuees at March ARB, he said.
If local leaders were given more notice, they could have done more public outreach, Gutierrez said.
“There’s a lot of misinformation out there so that would have helped,” he said. “Because it was just a surprise for everyone, I think that’s what also angered a lot of residents.”
The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this story.