Judge halts plan to move virus patients to California city
Costa Mesa, Calif. – A court temporarily blocked the U.S. government from sending up to 50 people infected with a new virus from China to a Southern California city for quarantine after local officials argued that the plan lacked details about how the community would be protected from the outbreak.
A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order late Friday to halt the transportation of anyone who has tested positive for the new coronavirus to Costa Mesa, a city of 110,000 in the heart of Orange County. U.S. District Judge Josephine L. Stanton scheduled a hearing on the issue Monday.
City officials quickly sought court intervention after learning from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services that U.S. officials planned to start moving patients to a state-owned facility in Costa Mesa as early as Sunday.
They said in court documents that local officials were not included in the planning effort and wanted to know why the Fairview Developmental Center was considered a suitable quarantine site and what kind of safeguards were put in place to prevent the possible transmission of the virus that has spread globally.
“The city has not been part of any of the process that led to the consideration of the site and it would be unfair to not include us in this kind of significant decision that has great impact on our community,” Mayor Katrina Foley told the Orange County Register.
The California Health and Human Services Agency said in a statement that it was working with federal authorities to find a place for people who were evacuated from a quarantined cruise ship in Japan and taken to Travis Air Force Base in Northern California. Anyone who tested positive for the virus cannot return to the base for the rest of their roughly 14-day quarantine period, and Fairview center is being considered as a place to send them.
The patients would have already received necessary medical treatment, according to the state health agency.
Fairview is a 109-acre campus that was once home to about 2,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It’s now nearly empty as the state has moved residents into community homes and other living situations.
Globally, the virus has infected nearly 78,000 people in 29 countries, and more than 2,300 have died.