Sign signals "Welcome to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar."
A sign at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.” Photo by Ken Stone

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar is one of  four military bases that have been chosen to house up to 1,000 people who may require quarantine for coronavirus following travel in China.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Satruday approved a request for the possible quarantine space from the Department of Health and Human Services.

“HHS officials requested the Defense Department to provide several facilities capable of housing at least 250 people in individual rooms through Feb. 29, 2020,” officials said.

The other bases are Travis Air Force Base in Northern California; the 168th Regiment, Regional Training Institute, in Fort Carson, CO; and Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

HHS is responsible for providing medical and standard care, transportation and security for any evacuees from China.

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a 14-day mandatory quarantine order for nearly 200 people who were flown to March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County from Wuhan, China, where the deadly coronavirus was first detected.

The group of diplomats and their families, who arrived on a State Department-chartered airplane on Wednesday, had been staying at the military base under a three-day voluntary isolation. But CDC officials pointed to a case reported in Germany in which a person might have spread the virus to another before developing symptoms.

“While we recognize this is an unprecedented action, we are facing an unprecedented public health threat and this is one of the tools in our toolbox to mitigate the potential impact of this novel virus on the United States,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

The federal quarantine order — the first in 50 years — comes amid the federal government declaring a public health emergency and the Trump administration temporarily barring foreign nationals believed to be at risk of transmitting the virus from entering the United States.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department issued its most serious travel advisory, warning Americans not to travel to China.

Delta, American and United airlines also announced they will temporarily halt all of their flights to mainland China due to the coronavirus outbreak.

CDC said that although little is known about the coronavirus, the risk of infection for people in the United States is low. No cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in San Diego or Riverside Counties, though there is one case each in Orange and Los Angeles counties.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.