U.S. health officials revealed fresh details Monday about the order to quarantine hundreds of Americans to contain the coronavirus outbreak, which has now killed at least 362 people and sickened nearly 17,400 worldwide.
Health officials say 195 Americans are now in mandatory quarantine. But that number is expected to grow as Americans who have recently traveled to Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, return to the U.S., Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said Monday.
Trump administration officials on Friday announced a mandatory 14-day quarantine for any U.S. citizen or permanent resident who has traveled to Hubei province in the two weeks prior to the announcement. With some exceptions, travelers who are not citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. who have been in Hubei will not be admitted into the U.S., the announcement said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working with state and local health authorities to prepare facilities for quarantine, Messonnier said.
"The discussions about where those patients will go is a conversation the CDC has been having actively with the state and local health departments," she said. "We are working through an operational plan that might be slightly different at each of those locations depending on how much preparation they've done."
All flights from China are now being funneled through 11 airports in the U.S., so passengers eligible for quarantine will be brought to facilities near those airports, Messonnier added. Where passengers will be quarantined may vary broadly depending on where they land, Messonnier added.
"I think for some specific locations, military bases are close by," she said. "Other states have already made plans for hotels as part of their operational planning."
Messonnier declined to provide an estimate of the number of people who will be placed in quarantine.
Messonnier also said Monday that the State Department is preparing to send more evacuation flights to Wuhan. Those flights, however, will land in the U.S. at "specific Department of Defense locations," rather than the 11 designated airports.
CDC officials will monitor the health of the passengers throughout the quarantine, Messonnier said.
The decision to quarantine Americans is based largely on mounting evidence that the new coronavirus spreads before symptoms appear, she said.