COSTA MESA (CBSLA) – The federal government has called the city of Costa Mesa’s attempt to block the transfer of coronavirus patients to the city “ill-informed and legally baseless.”
Documents filed Sunday by the federal government, including the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, urge the court to lift the temporary injunction in place that is stopping the transfer of up to 50 confirmed coronavirus patients from Travis Air Force Base near Sacramento to Costa Mesa’s Fairview Developmental Center.
“Plaintiffs’ ill-informed and legally baseless application endangers the safety and well-being of the American people. Plaintiffs ask this Court to substitute unfounded speculation for the expertise of federal and state public-health authorities,” the documents state. “Public health experts at all levels of federal and state government need to spend their time and efforts addressing the COVID-19 outbreak and protecting the health and safety of our communities. Plaintiffs’ efforts have only increased the likelihood of the threats to public health that they seek to avoid.”
On Friday, the city of Costa Mesa filed a request for a temporary restraining order to block the transfer, stating that the federal government planned to transfer the patients this weekend but did not inform city officials until late Thursday night.
Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley said the city was surprised to A federal judge granted the city of Costa Mesa’s temporary restraining order late Friday.
“We have a lot of activity in the area,” Foley said. “So, it’s not the kind of area that’s isolated and that would be appropriate for quarantining people who have an infectious disease.”
On Saturday, Costa Mesa residents and city officials gathered for an emergency meeting to discuss the growing concerns over the transfer.
“We saw it on the news this morning,” said Santa Ana resident William Hart, who attended the meeting. “We were shocked. We didn’t know this was happening. My wife’s been crying all day.”
Officials said the patients are California residents and may be coming from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan from which more than 300 U.S. citizens were removed on Feb. 17. CDC officials previously said some of those passengers were taken to Travis Air Force Base, and an unknown number had tested positive for the virus that has killed more than 2,300 people.
In the injunction, the city of Costa Mesa said it seeks to stop the transfer until “an adequate site survey has been conducted, the designated site has been determined suitable for this purpose, all necessary safeguards and precautions have been put in place, and the public and local government have been informed of all efforts to mitigate risk of transmission of the disease.”
The temporary injunction holds off the transfer of patients until Monday, when a federal judge will hear the case.
The CDC’s website says “imported cases of COVID-19 in travelers have been detected in the U.S.” and “person-to-person spread of COVID-19 also has been seen among close contacts of returned travelers from Wuhan, but at this time, this virus is NOT currently spreading in the community in the United States.”
As of Feb. 21, the CDC had only confirmed 35 cases of coronavirus in the U.S., with California’s confirmed total at 15.
However, the California Department of Public Health said Friday that 7,600 California residents who have recently traveled to China were asked to self-quarantine to help limit the spread of the virus. This does not include travelers from the Hubei province, where the virus is thought to have originated, as those travelers have flown on charter flights and been quarantined on U.S. military bases, including Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield.