Camp Ashland

QUARANTINE: Barracks at Camp Ashland, seen here in 2015, will house persons possibly exposed to the coronavirus in China. (Photo from BH News Service)

ASHLAND – Officials have confirmed that Americans will be coming to Nebraska for quarantine at Camp Ashland near Ashland.

Nebraska Medicine/University Nebraska Medical Center sent an email Wednesday confirming that “rescued Americans” will be housed at the Nebraska National Guard facility, but did not say when.

Ashland Fire Chief Mike Meyer told other news outlets Tuesday that local emergency first providers were “en route” with the patients, but there has been no confirmation of when or if they have arrived.

Between 70 and 80 people are expected to arrive on Friday, Terry Miller, Saunders County Emergency Management director, said Tuesday.

Those quarantined there will remain for observation purposes, Miller said.

According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), planes will be met by a team of CDC personnel deployed there to assess the health of the passengers. The passengers will be been screened, monitored and evaluated by medical and public health personnel every step of the way. The CDC also stated that the passengers will be issued quarantine orders upon arrival at their designated quarantine location.

According to Miller there are three buildings with 85 hotel-style rooms at Camp Ashland that have been made available. Each building is two stories high and is built on stilts.

Americans returning from other parts of China will be allowed to self-monitor for a similar period of time.

Under a federal health emergency order issued last Friday, American citizens who have traveled within the past two weeks to China’s Wuhan area, which is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, will be subject to a mandatory quarantine of 14 days.

“The decision to position them there is for those people who just came from China that don’t have symptoms yet but to evaluate them for two weeks before releasing them into the general public,” Miller said.

The people who will be quarantined will not come in contact with the public, Miller said.

“Detainees will not eat in the dining hall, use the fitness center or have contact with soldiers in training nor interact with National Guard members either,”

he said.

Miller also said there will be an additional 60 or 70 people from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the University of Nebraska Medical Center at Camp Ashland in a support staff role.

“Three of the barracks will be utilized and will be fenced off,” he said. “Their food will be brought in and staff will do their laundry.”

Miller also said Camp Ashland will continue to be operational.

“There is guard training scheduled for this weekend” he said. “It’s business as usual.”

Miller said that the people coming from China are all American citizens, probably from all over the country.

“We don’t know those specifics,” he said. “The government wanted to get them out of China before there is a total shut down over there.”

Miller sad his biggest fear is potential panic.

“We don’t want to overload the hospitals if anyone comes down with a cough or the sniffles,” he said.

Terra Uhing, executive director of Three Rivers Health Department, said the main priority is to protect the communities and be successful in supporting and maintaining the health of the residents within the Saunders County jurisdiction.

“This situation will not affect the day to day activities of the communities,” she said. “Influenza is still a greater risk than the coronavirus is.”

Further details of will be shared at a press conference scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Thursday at UNMC.

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