More than 100 cruise ship passengers heading to San Antonio for coronavirus quarantine

Posted at 10:24 AM, Mar 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-08 11:24:32-04

SAN ANTONIO, TX — Roughly 100 passengers from a cruise ship that was carrying roughly 20 people infected with the new coronavirus are headed to Lackland Air Force Base for quarantine, the San Antonio Express-News reported Sunday.

Passengers on the Grand Princess cruise ship being sent to the base are currently asymptomatic. The newspaper reported that San Antonio officials were informed about the news in a Saturday call with the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. The ship has been docked off the California coast for days, with roughly 3,000 people stuck on board.

The base has already hosted hundreds of people for quarantine — and on Tuesday released more than 120 who had been previously evacuated from another cruise ship where the virus had been spreading. That release prompted backlash from officials, including San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who declared a public health emergency, and Gov. Greg Abbott, who demanded that the Centers for Disease Control halt the scheduled release and perform additional tests for the virus moving forward.

There have been 19 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Texas, though health officials have not reported any cases of "community spread" of the virus.

On Saturday night, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, said "many of us have expressed to the Trump Administration serious concerns" over how to quarantine and treat infected patients.

"For example, we still do not have the testing kits we need to truly determine community spread," Castro tweeted.

Meanwhile, the Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston has asked 11 workers to self-quarantine for the next two weeks, the Houston Chronicle reported Saturday.

The hospital's request came after learning that a patient it treated at one of its medical facilities for stomach pain later tested positive for the new virus. Doctors, citing privacy concerns, declined to name the specific clinic or hospital, though they did say that the patient had not been initially tested for COVID-19 and was released about a week ago.