ONTARIO (CBSLA) — A plane carrying more than 100 United States citizens being evacuated from Wuhan, China — the epicenter of the new coronavirus outbreak — is scheduled to arrive at March Air Reserve Base Wednesday morning, after being diverted from Ontario International Airport.
On Tuesday afternoon, preparations in Ontario were well underway as the airport brought in showers, bathrooms and a truck full of drinking water to a hangar that was expected to house up to 240 quarantined U.S. citizens being evacuated from China.
San Bernardino Supervisor Curt Hagman posted a video on social media confirming that a chartered plane would be arriving in the United States this week, arriving in Alaska to refuel, before making its way to Ontario.
“We’re prepared for this,” Hagman said in the video. “We’re not at risk whatsoever.”
But in a Tuesday evening social media post, Hagman said the plane was being diverted to March Air Reserve Base in Riverside.
Watch the video below https://t.co/BX8NoJA40D
— Curt Hagman (@curthagman) January 29, 2020
Ontario International Airport tweeted out a statement that said, in part:
“Ontario International Airport stood ready to provide a safe and welcoming landing for American diplomats and U.S. citizens returning from China, and appreciate the support from our federal, state and local partners in preparing for our repatriation site. We also appreciate the support and understanding of the extended community we serve as this sensitive operation unfolded.”
According to a Monday release, passengers on the plane would be screened for signs of illness before leaving China, after arriving in Alaksa and again when they arrive in Southern California. If any passengers show symptoms of the virus at any of the stages of travel, they will not be allowed to continue on and will undergo treatment at local hospitals.
“We don’t believe anyone is sick,” Hagman said. “We don’t believe anyone has the virus.”
Hagman said the passengers who do arrive in Ontario will not go through the airport, but will instead be quarantined for up to two weeks at a hangar away from other travelers.
But passengers at the airport had mixed feelings about the impending arrivals.
“I have a husband that is immune-compromised, and so is my grandson,” Linda Dedomenico, a traveler, said. “If I get them sick, it could be deadly.”
But another traveler said it was smart.
“I think they’ll nip it in the bud before it gets worse,” Kim Delessandro said.
China has reported at least 130 deaths from the virus and another 4,500 confirmed cases. In the United States, five people have been diagnosed, including two in Southern California — one in Los Angeles County and the other in Orange County.
On Tuesday night, the United States government will be expanding its screening of travelers for the virus from five to 20 airports and was considering a temporary ban on commercial flights to and from mainland China.
“Americans should know that this is a potentially very serious public health threat,” Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services, said. “But, at this point, Americans should not worry for their own safety.”