San Antonio Officials and JBSA Tell Residents Not to Panic Over Lackland Quarantine Site

click to enlarge A surgical technician scrubs in before entering an operating room at Lackland's Wilford Hall medical facility. - KEVIN IINUMA / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Kevin Iinuma / Wikimedia Commons
A surgical technician scrubs in before entering an operating room at Lackland's Wilford Hall medical facility.
City officials and Joint Base San Antonio are working to reassure residents that the designation of JBSA-Lackland as a quarantine site amid the coronavirus outbreak doesn't pose health risks to the community.

The military base will house up to 250 people arriving from China while they wait out a two-week quarantine period. Defense Department officials assured the city the evacuees have shown no symptoms and pose no danger, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in an emailed statement.

JBSA officials tweeted that base personnel will not come into direct contact with the evacuees nor will the evacuees have access to base locations other than their housing. Further, JBSA told KENS5 it will hold town halls to answer additional questions from residents and base personnel.

"We should all be comforted by the extra precautions being taken by federal, state and local health officials," Nirenberg said. "We do not currently have any individuals diagnosed with the coronavirus here in San Antonio, and our Metro Health Department will continue to monitor the situation and exercise an abundance of caution.”

Over the weekend, the Department of Defense identified JBSA-Lackland along with two California military bases and another in Colorado as quarantine sites for people returning from overseas.

Despite the federal and local assurances, some residents fretted on social media that the site could present health risks. "They can't find a remote location to do this? They have to pick one of the nation's largest cities?" one asked on Twitter.

But Councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia, whose district includes Lackland, told KENS5 there's no evidence to suggest the quarantine location is a threat to the community.

"The misconception that folks with the coronavirus are coming to San Antonio is incredibly wrong," she said. "They're folks that aren't showing any symptoms."

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