Pentagon approves military facilities to quarantine citizens possibly exposed to coronavirus

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)

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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.

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Trump admin. rolls back Obama-era restrictions on U.S. military use of land mines

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, left, and Italian Minister of Defense Lorenzo Guerini take part in a joint press conference on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, at the Pentagon in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 4:00 PM PT — Friday, January 31, 2020

The Trump administration is rolling back restrictions on the military’s use of land mines. On Thursday, President Trump cancelled the Obama-era policy, which has been banned by more than 100 countries.

The decision reversed a 2014 policy that limited the use of explosive devices to the Korean Peninsula. The new rule will apply to “advanced, non-persistent” landmines that are “specifically designed to reduce unintended harm to civilians and partner forces.”

In this undated photograph released Aug. 19, 2018 by the state-run Emirates News Agency (WAM) on behalf of the Saudi-funded Masam anti-mine operation, an unidentified de-miner uncovers a mine near Marib, Yemen. (WAM via AP)

During Thursday’s press conference with his Italian counterpart, Defense Secretary Mark Esper called land mines an important tool for military forces.

“Landmines are one of very many other important tools that our commanders need to have available to them on the battlefield to shape the battlefield and to protect our forces,” stated Esper. “At the end the day, we want to make sure that we have all the tools in our toolkit, that are legally available and effective, to ensure our success and to ensure the protection of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines.”

He went on to say the administration’s policy is a part of the president’s commitment to ensure “our forces are able to defend against any and all threats.”

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Defense Dept. to house 200 Americans at Calif. military base after evacuation from China

An airplane carrying U.S. citizens being evacuated from Wuhan, China, lands at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, Calif. Jan. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 2:22 PM PT — Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Department of Defense said it’s ready to temporarily house more than 200 Americans, who were evacuated from the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in China. Evacuees, including State Department personnel and their families, landed at March Air Reserve Base in southern California on Wednesday.

“The whole plane erupted into cheers when the crew welcomed them back to the United States. It’s really easy for us to focus on fears, but at the end of this day, this mission, it was about people. It was about American citizens, some of whom were working to serve our country. It was about families (and) it was about helping each other in this time of need.” – Dr. Anne Zink, Alaskan Chief Medical Officer

Officials from the Health and Human Services Department will reportedly be at the base to observe and provide care for the evacuees. Before arriving in California, passengers were screened in Alaska.

“The crew never got off in China, and it was never in any sort of interaction with the passengers itself,” said Dr. Zink. “We have been working closely with the CDC and they felt that they were at zero risk.”

Moving forward, DOD officials said any person who shows symptoms will be transported to a local civilian hospital.

Personnel in protective clothing unload luggages from the airplane carrying U.S. citizens being evacuated from Wuhan, China, at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, Calif. Jan. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

Earlier that same day, France confirmed its fourth case of the new virus. An elderly Chinese man was hospitalized on Wednesday after showing symptoms of the illness. Officials said the man traveled from the Hubei province in Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus outbreak is centered.

This comes as France is preparing to evacuate more than 500 of its citizens from the region. The country is sending the first of several planes to the region on Thursday.

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U.S., Colombia troops begin joint military exercises

In this July 30th, 2014, file photo, U.S. paratroopers team up with their counterparts from multiple nations for an exercise in Fort Tolemaida, Colombia. Over the weekend, readiness preparation continued for U.S. forces as they took part in a multinational training exercise in Colombia. (Department of Defense via AP)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 7:53 AM PT — Monday, January 27, 2020

The U.S. recently teamed up with Colombia in joint military training. Over the weekend, troops from both nations began an airborne assault exercise in Colombia, which was designed to simulate the securing of an airfield.

According to officials, the exercises were intended to increase cooperation between the two countries. 75 U.S. paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division joined Colombian forces for both ground and air training.

North Carolina-based troops also exchanged strategic and tactical expertise with their Colombian counterparts.

“What today’s exercise represents is the friendship between the United States and Colombia, we are constantly performing exercises to promote the interoperability of our forces,” stated Philip Goldberg, U.S. ambassador to Colombia. “It’s very important, we’re good friends and allies, and that is the goal of this exercise.”

This comes as roughly a million migrants have fled to Colombia from Venezuela since the country’s crisis began. Although Colombia and Venezuela share a border, the two countries reportedly do not have any diplomatic ties.

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Federal judge blocks Trump plan to spend millions in military funds on border wall construction

closeDemocrats call out Trump for lack of progress on border wallVideo

Democrats call out Trump for lack of progress on border wall

National Border Patrol Council Brandon Judd on President Trump's border wall progress.

A federal judge in Texas has blocked the Trump administration from using $3.6 billion earmarked for the military to fund border wall construction.

District Court Judge David Briones, a Bill Clinton appointee, ruled in an El Paso court Tuesday that the money cannot be diverted to build 175 miles of steel barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The El Paso County and Border Network for Human Rights sued the administration in October, claiming President Trump overstepped his authority when he issued a national emergency declaration to get additional funds for the wall — his signature 2016 campaign promise.

IN SAN DIEGO, OFFICIALS SAY NEW WALL IS HELPING BRING BORDER NUMBERS DOWN

Acting CBP commissioner says new border wall gives Border Patrol a 'fighting chance'Video

Congress had already given him $1.375 billion for wall construction.

Briones ruled in October to temporarily halt the president's plan to use the Pentagon funds. His Tuesday ruling only applies to the $3.6 billion, not other money available to the administration, including funds from counter-drug operations.

In September, Defense Secretary Mark Esper signed off on spending the $3.6 billion, provoking outcry from Democrats and immigration-rights advocates.

Kristy Parker, an attorney with the nonprofit group Protect Democracy who represented the plaintiffs, described Trump's declaration as a power grab.

Supreme Court clears way for Trump administration to use Pentagon funds for border wall constructionVideo

"Today’s order affirms that the president is not a king and that our courts are willing to check him when he oversteps his bounds," Parker said in a statement. "This is a huge win for democracy and the rule of law.”

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Earlier this year, the Supreme Court paved the way for the administration to use $2.5 billion in Pentagon funds to replace existing fencing in California, Arizona and New Mexico.

The Trump administration is expected to appeal Tuesday's decision.

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