FAIRFIELD, Calif. - Two buses and a van with about 150 people total arrived at Travis Air Force Base Monday night. The busloads of Grand Princess cruise ship evacuees, possibly exposed to the novel coronavirus/COVID-19, pulled in to the base after 8 p.m. where they will be quarantined for the next two weeks.
Through the windows, it appeared everyone on board was wearing a protective mask.
About 1,000 people aboard the cruise ship, which docked in Oakland on Monday, are from California. Those who don’t have symptoms of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) were taken to either Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield or Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) spokesperson at Travis AFB said at least one of three buses standing by at the Port of Oakland was waiting to take Canadian passengers aboard the ship to Oakland International Airport.
For those on Travis AFB, they will be housed at the Westwind Inn, which is located at the military base as well as at a collection of family apartments that are nearby. Their temperatures will be taken twice daily. If symptoms develop, they will be transferred off base to a civilian hospital.
This is the same hotel that was used for quarantine for the past month and a half for American evacuees from Wuhan, China and then from a Princess cruise ship in Japan. The last 140 people from that quarantine were cleared a week ago. While those people have all returned home, the Westwind Inn was not turned back over to Travis AFB from the CDC.
Now an even bigger quarantine operation is about to get underway.
There are no exact numbers yet, since some of the California passengers who live in Southern California will head to San Diego, but the range of people expected to be quarantined at Travis AFB is 400 to 600.
Travis AFB is assuring its military personnel they will have no contact with anyone potentially infected with the disease.
KTVU caught up with several residents who live by the base stocking up on cleaning supplies at the nearby Walmart.
“I don’t agree with it. Why bring ‘em here? Germs are spread all kinds of ways, so they can say none of it came from the base to make us feel better, but I don't believe it," said Alexandria Le Blanc of Fairfield. She questioned the effectiveness of quarantines to combat coronavirus. “It’s not being quarantined if it’s getting everywhere. How good is quarantine really working?”
“If I had a choice, they need to stay on the boat. It’s a city within itself as it is. I’ve been on these ships. They can get medical people onboard who help these people,” said Lynn Deyarmond of Suisun.
Others had a more compassionate approach.
“They’ve got to be taken care of it’s a good facility for them. It will be positive for them. It’s just hard because you don’t know,” said Judy Blair of Vacaville.
Some expressed their fears of the unknown.
“Yeah, it’s scary because I’m not so sure the containment is what it should be, but at the end of the day we’re all Californians and we’ve got to look out for each other,” said Adam Quinteros of Vallejo.
For arriving evacuees, life on the air base will be restricted, but offers more space than the ship, and the promise of being closer to home.
"If it was my family or my friends on that ship, I'd want them over here," said Quinteros.
Solano County has six cases of coronavirus, acquired in the community, with links to travel or known origins, but not associated with Travis AFB.
Debora Villalon is a reporter forKTVU. Email Debora at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter@DeboraKTVU