Lackland Air Force Base as seen from Pearsall Park.
Evacuees began arriving at the quarantine at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland last month. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

A person in the San Antonio area had a “weakly positive” test result for the new coronavirus after being released from federally managed quarantine at Lackland Air Force Base, local health officials said Sunday. The person has since been placed back in quarantine, according to a statement from San Antonio Metro Health.

“Metro Health has been tracking where the person went, who they interacted with, timeframes outside the federally ordered quarantine and who may have been exposed,” the statement said. “This information will be shared with the public when completed.”

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are notifying people who had contact with the person after they left isolation, according to a statement that local health officials attributed to the federal agency.

The person was treated and isolated for weeks after their return to the United States from Wuhan, China, on a U.S. State Department chartered flight. The individual was allowed to leave isolation after they appeared to be asymptomatic, had two negative test results and met all criteria for release, according to the CDC statement.

“Following the patient’s release, results of a subsequent sample were received, and determined to be weakly positive,” the statement said. “Out of an abundance of caution, CDC decided to bring the individual back into isolation at a local medical facility.”

Lackland Air Force Base is also where some evacuees from the Diamond Princess cruise ship were quarantined after they were repatriated to the United States against CDC’s recommendation.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in a statement Sunday that it was “unacceptable” that CDC allowed the patient flown from Wuhan to leave isolation.

“We will do everything within our power to ensure that the community is kept safe and the exposure risk remains low,” Nirenberg said. “The federal quarantine period for the Diamond Princess cruise ship evacuees ends tomorrow March 2. I have asked the CDC to do everything in their power to ensure that those who are released pose no risk to the community.”

As of Saturday, there have been 74 confirmed cases of the virus in the United States, according to The New York Times. The official tally in Texas remains at 11 — all of them in the San Antonio area. The case disclosed Sunday is the first case in Texas in which a person who tested positive for the virus was known to have been outside the federal quarantine area.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. 

Brandon Formby writes about the challenges facing Texas’ largest metro areas as they experience unbridled growth. He joined the Tribune in October 2016 and is the organization’s first reporter based...