Secretary of Defense Mark Esper speak during a news conference at the Pentagon in Washington, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, with French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
UPDATED 7:28 AM PT — Tuesday, February 4, 2020
Defense Secretary Mark Esper has approved the use of four military bases to quarantine up to 1,000 people posing coronavirus health risks. The request by the Department of Health and Human Services was approved over the weekend.
This comes after Chinese health officials reported more than 420 deaths and over 20,000 confirmed cases of the virus, constituting an increase of nearly 3,000 cases within a 24-hour period.
Each military base will reportedly provide housing for at least 250 people through the end of February.
“The DOD will only provide housing support, while HHS will remain responsible for all care, transportation and security of these individuals,” explained Jonathan Hoffman, a spokesperson for the Pentagon. “DOD personnel will not be in direct contact with these individuals, nor will these individuals have access to the base facilities beyond the housing.”
Carrying some 240 American diplomats and citizens, a Boeing 747 aircraft sits on the tarmac of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Anchorage, Alaska Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. Chartered by the U.S. government, the plane flew from Wuhan, China, the source of the recent coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Michael Dinneen)
In the meantime, a presidential order has temporarily barred some foreigners from the visiting the U.S. Additionally, Americans who visited China within the last two weeks will be screened at select ports of entry.
Safety measures can also include 14 days of quarantine to ensure individuals do not pose a public health risk.