Photo: William Luther /Staff Photographer
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San Antonio officials were informed Saturday night that about 100 passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship — where at least 21 people are infected with the new coronavirus — are headed to Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland early this week for quarantine.
City officials were told in a call around 7 p.m. with the U.S. Health and Human Services Department about plans to send only asymptomatic passengers from the ship, which has been idling off the coast of California for days as federal officials grappled with what to do with the nearly 3,000 people aboard. At least one former passenger of the Grand Princess, a California man, has died of the virus, health officials there have said.
About 90 evacuees coming to San Antonio are Texans, and the rest live in surrounding states, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in an interview Sunday morning. While an exact timeline will be dependent on when the ship docks, he said local officials have been told the group could arrive by Monday night at the earliest.
All passengers will be tested for the virus upon arrival, he added.
In a statement, John Wittman, spokesman for Gov. Greg Abbott, said the governor has been informed of details of the plan by Vice President Mike Pence, who has been tapped by the president to oversee the country’s response to what appears to be a looming coronavirus pandemic. That includes not releasing the ship’s passengers into the general public in San Antonio.
“All of the repatriated citizens will remain at Lackland under quarantine until they clear the revised and heightened testing protocol to ensure they are not affected by the COVID-19 virus,” Wittman said. “Once cleared, Texans will be released to return home while non-Texans will be safely transported to their home state using the same public safety protocol used for Diamond Princess passengers who were previously quarantined at Lackland.”
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Lauren Caruba covers health care and medicine in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read her on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | [email protected] | Twitter: @LaurenCaruba