The first group of American citizens who flew home from their posts in Wuhan, China are healthy and have been released from their 14-day quarantine imposed by the federal government.
“Our work here is done,” Dr. Cameron Kaiser, public health officer for Riverside County, California, said in a news conference Tuesday. “These people are going home.”
All 195 passengers had been housed at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, California since they were evacuated from Wuhan, China — the center of the outbreak — on Jan. 28.
All 195 passengers endured blood draws, nasal swabs and twice daily temperature checks for the past two weeks.
Not a single one has developed what’s now called COVID-19, the name for the new coronavirus that’s sickened more than 42,000 in China and killed more than 1,000.
“They have been watched more closely than anyone else in the U.S. at this point in time,” the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Dr. Nancy Knight said during the news conference.
The group, made up of mostly of U.S. government employees and their families, has been cleared to travel freely to their final destinations. The CDC says 14 days is the maximum time period during which symptoms might develop after a person is exposed to the virus.
And even though people who work at March have been physically separated from those under quarantine, those on base said some have faced discrimination from community fear of the new coronavirus. Workers at the Base have been harassed both in person and online by Riverside County residents who fear that the respiratory disease — most cases of which have been in China — might take hold in the United States.
Officials in Riverside County sent a letter to residents Monday, urging people to stop targeting base employees with “hurtful” statements online or in person.
A few base workers have been “accosted in uniform,” the letter read. “This is not acceptable, and needs to stop.”
According to the letter, those who work on the base have had no exposure to anyone who has been in quarantine.
Knight pointed to an example of a little girl who endured bullying in the form of name-calling at school simply because her mother works on base. She said another worker complained of being denied housing because of employment on base.
Those quarantined have been “deemed safe to re-enter their communities,” Knight said. “They pose no health risks to themselves, to their families, to their places of work, school, or their communities.”
Four other groups of passengers evacuated from Wuhan are housed under quarantine at other military bases in the U.S. Those groups will not be permitted to leave until sometime next week.