Pentagon prepping housing for 1,000 people over coronavirus concerns
Posted February 1, 2020 3:08 p.m. EST
Updated February 1, 2020 3:42 p.m. EST
CNN — The Pentagon said Saturday that Defense Secretary Mark Esper has approved a request to provide military housing for up to 1,000 people who may need to be quarantined upon arrival in the United States from overseas travel due to concerns about possible infection from coronavirus.
The Pentagon said the Department of Health and Human Services requested that the Defense Department provide several facilities capable of housing at least 250 people in individual rooms through February 29.
"Under the request, DOD will only provide housing support, while HHS will be responsible for all care, transportation, and security of the evacuees. 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," the Pentagon said in a statement.
"In accordance with (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines, all evacuees will be monitored for a period of 14 days. Should routine monitoring of the evacuees identify ill individuals, HHS has procedures in place to transport them to a local civilian hospital," the statement continued.
The coronavirus outbreak has killed at least 259 people and infected close to 12,000 people globally, as it continues to spread beyond China.
For comparison, in the 2019-2020 season so far, at least 19 million people in the US have gotten the flu and 10,000 people have died from it, including at least 68 children. Flu activity has been widespread in nearly every region, with high levels of activity in 41 states, the CDC reported this week.
Coronavirus has been confirmed in more than a dozen countries and territories since it was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December. Countries are now sending planes to evacuate their citizens from the infection zone, and imposing travel bans or restrictions on travelers from China.
Nearly 60 million people are under lockdown in Chinese cities as international researchers race to develop a vaccine and halt its spread.