ATLANTA — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said Sunday morning that some passengers currently quarantined aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship off of California would be coming to Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta in the coming days.
More than 3,000 people have been kept on-board the ship, which has not been permitted to dock in California after 21 people tested positive for coronavirus.
"I have learned that thirty-four Georgians and additional American citizens from the eastern United States who are currently on the Grand Princess cruise ship off the California coast will be securely transferred to Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia," Kemp said in a release Sunday morning. "These passengers will undergo testing and be quarantined for possible exposure to COVID-19. They are expected to arrive at Dobbins late Monday, March 9 or early Tuesday, March 10."
There is no indication if any of the people being transported to Georgia have tested positive for coronavirus.
According to California state officials, the Grand Princess has been given permission to dock at the Port of Oakland on Monday, where disembarkation of passengers will begin.
Our TEGNA sister station KNTV reports that the ship's captain John Smith informed passengers that people who require “acute medical treatment and hospitalization” will be taken to health care facilities in California. Smith said that other guests would be taken to federally operated isolation sites or transported out of California.
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Kemp said Georgia stands ready to assist federal agencies in the effort to provide care for Americans in need.
"I am confident that Dobbins is equipped to provide high-quality care for Americans in need while keeping Georgia families safe, and our state stands ready to assist our federal partners if requested," the governor said in his statement. "In the days and weeks ahead, I encourage Georgians to pray for the patients affected by COVID-19 and their healthcare providers. We must continue to support one another, trust the advice of the medical community, and remain vigilant."
Authorities said that after they leave the cruise ship, the passengers are going to be housed at Dobbins, or one of three other military facilities -- Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, Calif., Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, and Lackland Air Force in San Antonio.
While being housed at those facilities, the Department of Health and Human Services will be responsible for all care, security, transportation and food for those being quarantined. Any individuals with positive tests for coronavirus will be transferred to a hospital or "location directed by HHS."
11Alive contacted officials at Dobbins ARB on Sunday afternoon regarding the accommodations for the passengers being transported to and housed at the base.
"DoD is working closely with HHS to determine the potential installations and lodging requirements for quarantine operations for the passengers currently aboard the Grand Princess," said 1st Lt. Alan Abernethy with the 94th Airlift Wing Public Affairs office. "As with previous efforts, DoD would provide housing and HHS would be responsible for the aspects of the quarantine."
After receiving word of that some of the quarantined passengers would be relocated to Dobbins Air Base, Cobb County Commission Chairman Mike Boyce, accompanied by Dr. Janet Nemark, district health director for Cobb & Douglas Public Health, recorded a video message to county citizens.
In the message, Boyce and Memark emphasized that while local citizens in Cobb County are concerned, the operation at Dobbins is a self-contained and "low-risk" operation that has been in the planning for several weeks.
The Grand Princess had been forbidden to dock in San Francisco amid evidence that the vessel was the breeding ground for a cluster of nearly 20 cases of coronavirus that resulted in at least one death after its previous voyage.
There are 3,533 people currently on board the Grand Princess, including 2,422 guests and 1,111 teammates, said Princess Cruises group president Jan Swartz during a conference call with journalists Saturday afternoon.
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