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Report: Fort Carson chosen to provide housing for returning people who may need to be quarantined

250 people could be kept on post through February
Posted at 2:39 PM, Feb 01, 2020

COLORADO SPRINGS — The Defense Department will provide housing for as many as 1,000 people who may need to be quarantined after traveling overseas because of concerns about the novel coronavirus. Fort Carson is one of the locations selected to provide a place for the people they refer to as "evacuees."

That's according to CNN, who reported 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 after traveling overseas due to concerns about the novel coronavirus. The novel coronavirus has taken the lives of more than 300 people in China, according to the World Health Organization. In addition, the first death outside of the country has been reported in the Philippines.

In a statement Saturday, the Pentagon said the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asked the Defense Department to provide several facilities capable of housing at least 250 people in individual rooms through Feb. 29.

News5 has noticed the people who could be quarantined in the four military installations are referred to as "evacuees" by those with Fort Carson. Representatives from Fort Carson directed us to the Centers for Disease Control to learn more about who classifies as an "evacuee," and the CDC referred us to the U.S. State Department. News5 has emailed and called representatives from that department, and is waiting to hear back.

"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. In accordance with CDC 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 Pentagon said.

According to CNN, the Pentagon said the following installations have been selected by the DoD to assist HHS evacuation operations, if needed.

  • The 168th Regiment, Regional Training Institute, Fort Carson, Colorado
  • Travis Air Force Base, California
  • Lackland Air Force Base, Texas
  • Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California

Fort Carson responded to the report Saturday afternoon.

The Mountain Post said leadership is "actively coordinating support for lodging at the Colorado Army National Guard's Regional Training Institute of Excellence (RTIoE) to accommodate the HHS request." The RTloE is located outside of the living and work areas of soldiers, civilian, and family members.

Fort Carson also said the HHS will be responsible for all the care, transportation and security of the evacuees. Fort Carson Soldiers and personnel will not be in direct contact with the evacuees and evacuees will not have access to any post locations other than assigned housing.

There are travel restrictions in place in a handful of countries, including America. The American restrictions will not allow non-citizens into the country who have traveled to China recently. Those rules do not apply to family members of American citizens, and those who are residents. However, any American who has been to the Hubei province will be quarantined for around two weeks.

News5 also spoke with the Chief of Staff at UCHealth Memorial Hospital, Dr. Joseph Maslak, to learn more about what exactly the novel coronavirus is. Dr. Maslak said the common coronavirus is something a person with a cold or flu may get, but the novel coronavirus is a new strain. "The concern is that the virus is associated with underlying pneumonia and respiratory compromise," said Dr. Maslak.

Dr. Maslak also noted a big concern is how the novel coronavirus is getting from one person to another. "The common coronavirus, which presents as flu-like symptoms, doesn't typically result in death. So, the concern is, that this is a new strain that is thought to have come from animals, which is transmitted from animals to humans, but now we're seeing a human to human transmission," said Dr. Maslak.

Dr. Maslak said he wants to learn a lot more about the coronavirus. "As of right now, we don't have any exact treatment for this particular virus, it's more supportive. IV fluids, quarantine," said Dr. Maslak.

Dr. Maslak also said it's a good idea to wear a face mask if you are feeling sick, especially around young children, elderly people, and those who may also be sick. He did say UCHealth Memorial Hospital is uniquely prepared to handle a case of the novel coronavirus, because of the many rooms they can use for quarantine.