Pentagon to extend availability of 4 military bases to help with coronavirus efforts: official

The Pentagon on Saturday said it will extend the availability of four military installations to act as temporary housing through March 15 in an effort to help the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) manage the novel coronavirus, now known as COVID-19.

Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell, a Defense Department spokesman, confirmed the move to Fox News and said the Pentagon will continue to assist HHS by providing support at the following installations: Travis Air Force Base, Calif.; Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas; Fort Carson, Colo., and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.

The Defense Department will also provide necessary equipment for passenger and cargo handling, a facility for briefing passengers, office space for 50 HHS personnel, equipment, bedding and linens, as available, Mitchell said.

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HHS will continue to be responsible for the care of all the evacuees, including supervision, transportation, security (including limiting the movement of the evacuees on the military installations), meals, clothing, communications, linens and laundry services, and routine or specialized medical services at the local civilian hospital, he said.

In addition, it will also take on the provision, handling and disposal of hazardous materials, and oversee the decontamination of Defense Department facilities; HHS will provide and arrange for custodial services and any necessary grounds, Mitchell explained.

No Pentagon civilian employees, military personnel or contractor personnel will be involved in these services, he said.

Defense Department personnel will not have contact with evacuees and will minimize contact with personnel supporting the quarantine and/or isolation, the Pentagon said, adding that HHS will ensure no evacuated personnel are transferred to any installation if they are infected or ill.

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Any evacuees who are symptomatic, or become symptomatic, will be transferred to an off-base local civilian medical facility, Mitchell added.

As of Friday, the total number of deaths from the virus stood at 1,523 globally and 66,492 confirmed cases in China, according to the country's National Health Commission.