Common sense wins in handling coronavirus

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Passengers board buses after arriving on an airplane carrying U.S. citizens being evacuated from Wuhan, China, at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, Calif. Jan. 29, 2020.  RINGO H.W. CHIU/AP

The recent repatriation of Americans living in China following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus is a good example of government officials making common sense decisions that benefit us all. Initially, federal officials planned for the first planeload of returning American diplomats and their families to land at Ontario International Airport, which is an official repatriation center for the West Coast. One of the complex challenges to navigate in the repatriation effort was the need to quarantine the more than 200 individuals for up to a 14-day period. The lack of available hotel space in the surrounding Ontario area on such short notice and the impending risk of not being able to have one facility to house the American citizens potentially infected with coronavirus was a cause for alarm.

Fortunately, federal officials decided to redirect the flight to March Air Reserve Base in Riverside. Since then, other flights of repatriated Americans have landed at Travis AFB and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. In all, 15 military bases near major airports in the United States are setting up quarantine centers for possible coronavirus patients.

Military installations are well equipped with the infrastructure to accept these repatriation flights and to safely house people and provide medical attention during the quarantine period. Military bases have the side benefit of being isolated from civilian populations and are highly secure. So congratulations and thank you to everyone who had the foresight to rethink this important decision.

For the most recent federal update related to the novel coronavirus, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at Local updates can be found on our San Bernardino County Department of Public Health website at