On Friday it was announced that 50 evacuated passengers from the diamond princess cruise ship will be heading to the FEMA facility in Anniston Alabama. These passengers that have been evacuated from Japan that are coming to Anniston have tested positive for the Corona virus but are not showing any major symptoms yet. They will be quarantined at the FEMA facility, and only be allowed to leave once given the medical all clear. The federal government also announced that if while at the Anniston facility any passenger shows signs of major illness they will be transported to a pre-vetted hospital that was not disclosed.
Local officials in Anniston Said that they were not informed ahead of time of the decision by the federal government to move these passengers from the cruise ship diamond princess to Anniston beforehand. The mayor of Anniston said that he would try to get more information from the federal government on how this might affect local citizens, including the ones that work at the FEMA facility that are currently working on preparations for the upcoming 2020 hurricane season.
The president of the county commission even said that they would explore their legal options available to them to keep these evacuated passengers from being sent to the Anniston facility. The city of Costa Mesa California last week went to federal court and got an emergency injunction against the federal government from moving evacuated passengers from the diamond princess to their city. Their argument in court was that the federal government did not consult with local officials and develop a plan to move the passengers to the city and protect the citizens of the city at the same time, an argument similar to what the officials and Anniston are saying.
Here’s the complete release by the Department of Health and Human services about this move:
HHS is taking precautions to protect the health of all Americans from Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). To that end, HHS and FEMA agreed to use a federal facility, the FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama, as a place for some of the American passengers from the Diamond Princess to stay. These are passengers whom the federal government evacuated back to the U.S. from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.
The passengers who will stay at the Center tested positive for COVID-19, although at this time they either do not have symptoms or have mild flu-like symptoms. Any of the evacuees who become seriously ill will be transported to pre-identified hospitals for medical care. Under the HHS-FEMA agreement, the Center for Domestic Preparedness will provide the housing, and HHS will provide basic medical care and all other support services for these returning passengers. Passengers will stay in a separate area from the Center’s training participants and will remain at the Center until they are medically cleared.
The Center has unique facilities and routinely offers week-long, hands-on training for large groups of professionals from federal, state and local emergency management agencies, hospitals, public health agencies, and law enforcement agencies on disaster response