SANTA ANA (CBSLA) – The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to join Costa Mesa’s federal lawsuit challenging the transfer of coronavirus patients to the Fairview Developmental Center.
The move comes one day after a federal judge extended a temporary restraining order to block the transfer for another week to encourage more communication between the federal government and city officials.
“We have been working together since we heard about this,” said Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Michelle Steel before the board’s vote. “I found out actually on Friday… We were totally blindsided because we didn’t have a clue.”
Steel added, “We’re going to join the lawsuit… and do whatever possible that we can do to stop it.”
U.S. District Judge Josephine L. Staton granted an emergency temporary restraining order Friday, when city officials filed court papers saying they were not notified in advance of the plans and wanted assurances that an adequate study had been done determine if the site is safe to house the patients. The federal government responded through court documents over the weekend, calling the city’s concerns “ill-informed and legally baseless.”
Staton extended the order Monday for another seven days, and asked attorneys for both sides to meet and try to reach an agreement.
On Sunday, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement Sunday night that Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu may receive American travelers coming through LAX who would be quarantined to be monitored for symptoms of coronavirus.
The coronavirus is not currently spreading in U.S. communities, according to the statement. Both the CDC and HHS have said that person-to-person spread of coronavirus in the U.S. has only been seen among close contacts of returned travelers from Wuhan.
“The immediate risk of this new virus to the American public is believed to be low at this time,” the department said in the statement.
Though, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency, that message is about to change.
The agency’s assistant director, Dr. Nichole Quick, told the supervisors Tuesday that the CDC informed physicians on a teleconference call earlier in the day that there has been a shift in thinking on the virus.
“The CDC has now sort of announced it looks more like a matter of when, not if, there is community spread” of the virus in the U.S., “which is not surprising given the outbreaks in other countries,” Quick said. “The messaging now is a discussion of the inevitability.”