Pentagon Expected to Offer to Host More Coronavirus Evacuees at 11 Bases

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Empty lodging facilities at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.
This Feb. 2, 2020, photo provided by the Department of Defense shows empty lodging facilities at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. (Todd Holly/U.S. Air Force via AP)

The Defense Department is expected to offer the Department of Health and Human Services the use of more military installations near major airports in case the health department needs to quarantine more evacuees for the new coronavirus.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Thursday announced that 11 bases could house additional passengers coming from China "should HHS facilities become filled," the DoD said Thursday. The Pentagon stressed that the locations have been named as precautionary backup locations.

The installations are:

March and Travis are already hosting evacuees. The Pentagon has also named Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California; Fort Carson in Colorado; Lackland Air Force Base in Texas; and most recently, Camp Ashland in Nebraska, as principal installations to quarantine and treat people evacuating from Wuhan in China's central Hubei province, where the coronavirus is believed to have originated.

Related: Pentagon Adds Another Base for Quarantining Coronavirus Evacuees

"Under the request, DoD support at each location will be limited to providing housing support for up to 20 people as they undergo a period of quarantined observation," the Pentagon said of the newly announced installations.

Charter flights have been leaving China throughout the week.

Nearly 200 evacuees arrived at March last week.

On Wednesday, roughly 350 passengers aboard two jetliners landed at Travis. Though none of the evacuees have shown symptoms of the virus, they will be quarantined at the California base for the next two weeks, according to The Sacramento Bee.

Similar restrictions are in effect at the other installations. According to the Pentagon, military and DoD personnel cannot be in direct contact with evacuees.

HHS is responsible for all care, transportation, and security of the evacuees, the DoD said. HHS officials must ensure "that no evacuated personnel are transferred to any DoD installation if they are infected or ill," the Pentagon said earlier this week.

The same policy applies to all bases being used for the quarantine effort.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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