A plane carrying 51 evacuees from the coronavirus-stricken Grand Princess cruise ship landed at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland early Thursday morning.
The plane is the second to arrive in San Antonio from Oakland, California, where more than 2,000 passengers have disembarked since Monday, en route to quarantine facilities in Georgia, California, and Texas.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the flight that landed at 4:48 a.m. Thursday was carrying Texas residents who will remain in San Antonio for the duration of a federally mandated 14-day quarantine.
San Antonio officials are awaiting confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as to whether any of the 98 passengers who arrived at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland on Tuesday were taken to their home states. Gov. Greg Abbott last week requested that only Texans receive treatment at the Texas Center for Infectious Disease, Nirenberg said.
Nirenberg told the Rivard Report that several more flights in and out of San Antonio are anticipated as COVID-19 continues to spread and the CDC evacuates Americans from high-risk environments. Only Texas residents will remain at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland for quarantine; other evacuees will return to their home states.
CDC Spokesman Joey Smith said that Grand Princess cruise ship passengers who are residents of California were transferred to either Travis Air Force Base or Miramar Naval Air Station – both in California – and all other disembarking U.S. residents will begin mandatory quarantine at either Lackland or Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia until they are sent to their home states.
COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization on Wednesday as numbers throughout the world continue to climb, with 114 countries reporting confirmed cases and more than 4,000 deaths.
Of those cases, more than 1,200 are in the U.S., and 36 Americans have died of complications from the virus, according to CDC reports. Currently, there are 21 COVID-19 cases in Texas, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Nirenberg said that the biggest priority is to prevent and delay transmission of COVID-19 in San Antonio and Bexar County.
“Americans who at no fault of their own found themselves in a high risk situation deserve to come home and receive care. That is a capability that this city has,” Nirenberg said. “To do so requires proper coordination, which we are now starting to get more traction with.”