Passengers from cruise ship to be quarantined at MCAS Miramar

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) — Some passengers who have been held aboard a ship off the coast of San Francisco for two weeks will be quarantined at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego until full coronavirus testing can be completed, federal health officials announced Sunday.

At least 21 of the roughly 3,000 people on board the Grand Princess cruise have tested positive for COVID-19.

On Sunday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said the ship will dock in Oakland on Monday, when 962 passengers who are California residents will complete the mandatory quarantine at Travis Air Force Base, about 50 miles northeast of Oakland, and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.

Other United States passengers will be taken to Joint Base San Antonio Lackland in Texas or Dobbins Air Force Base in Georgia.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, at an afternoon news conference, said cruise passengers will likely disembark at the Port of Oakland on Monday.

“The Grand Princess is currently 10 to 12 miles off shore and about 2 1/2 hours away from the Oakland port,” Newsom said. “We are working out the enormity and complexity of this operation.”

The governor said foreign passengers will leave the ship and board charter buses to be taken to Oakland Airport. There they will board charter planes to be repatriated to their country of origin. U.S. passengers will board charter buses and be taken to Travis Air Force Base. California residents will be split up between Travis and the Miramar base to undergo testing and a 14-day quarantine.

“The entire operation — we hope — will be a two- or three-day process,” Newsom said. “We ask patience.”

No one on board will be released immediately to the general public.

Passengers who require medical treatment and hospitalization will be taken to health-care facilities in California.

The crew will be quarantined and treated aboard the ship.

“The Port of Oakland was chosen because it is one of a limited number of docks that can accommodate a ship the size of the Grand Princess, and because it was the easiest to seal off, securely move passengers toward their isolation destinations and protect the safety of the public,” the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services said in a statement.

Meanwhile, several conferences that were scheduled to be held in San Diego in March and April have been canceled or rescheduled because of worries about the outbreak.

The 34th National Institute on White Collar Crime, which was set to begin Wednesday and end Friday at Marriott Marquis San Diego, has been canceled.

“As a result of the large number of speakers and attendees who were compelled to cancel their participation due to travel restrictions put in place by employers, the American Bar Association and the Criminal Justice Section have made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s (event),” the ABA said on its website. The event will not be rescheduled, they said.

The Future of Individualized Medicine 2020, scheduled for Thursday and Friday at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, has been canceled because of concern for the health of registrants, speakers, exhibitors and staff, organizers said.

The 2020 Community Information Exchange business technology summit at Marriott Marquis San Diego has been postponed from March 18-20 to Aug. 12-14, organizers said, “following recent reports from the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding coronavirus (COVID-19).”

The Experimental Biology conference, scheduled for April 4-7 at the San Diego Convention Center, was canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

San Diego County has not had any confirmed local cases of COVID-19, although a presumptively positive case in Chula Visa was announced by health authorities on Thursday and they were awaiting confirmation from the CDC. The person works in Chula Vista but lives in Orange County.

On Friday, San Diego State University staff was told to be ready to set up “virtual classrooms” to teach students online in case the coronavirus outbreak worsens. Faculty will be trained at upcoming workshops on how to teach online.

The City Attorney’s Office warned San Diegans of price gouging in the wake of the outbreak on Friday.

“San Diegans shouldn’t have to worry about being cheated when taking the necessary precautions to stay healthy and prevent the spread of novel coronavirus,” City Attorney Mara W. Elliott said. “We are taking reports of price gouging seriously, and will hold accountable those who violate the law.”

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