Pentagon to provide housing support to HHS for evacuees over coronavirus concerns, including base in Texas

Posted at 5:22 PM, Feb 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-01 18:22:27-05

The Defense Department on Saturday approved housing support for up to 1,000 people should they need to be quarantined upon return from their overseas travel due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to a statement.

Officials from the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) requested DOD to provide several facilities capable of housing at least 250 people in individual rooms through the end of the month.

"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," the statement said. "In accordance with [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines, all evacuees will be monitored for a period of 14 days."

As has been the case at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, California -- where the first planeload of evacuees were taken -- the military will only provide housing support.

All care, transport and security will come directly from HHS, Jonathan Rath Hoffman, Defense Secretary Mark Esper's assistant for public affairs, wrote on Twitter.

He added that the help will not negatively impact readiness or critical operations.

"Should routine monitoring of the evacuees identify ill individuals, HHS has procedures in place to transport them to a local civilian hospital," the DOD statement said.

The four military installations that may be utilized by HHS are:

Centennial Regional Training Institute (168th regiment) in Fort Carson, ColoradoTravis Air Force Base near Fairfield, CaliforniaLackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TexasMarine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, California"The department's primary responsibility is the safety of our force, our families and our base communities," Hoffman wrote.