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San Antonio leaders provide update on coronavirus response and preparedness

The update comes after the city received passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship.
Credit: KENS 5

SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and City Council gathered Wednesday afternoon to provide an update on the city's response and preparedness to the coronavirus. 

The meeting was held less than 24 hours after the city received passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship. Tuesday night, 98 passengers arrived in SA. A second flight is expected to land in the Alamo City on Wednesday. 

The passengers will be quarantined at Joint Base San Antonio- Lackland. The placement of evacuees at JBSA-Lackland is the third such group. 

Since February, 235 American evacuees from China's Hubei province and a cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, in Japan have stayed on the base. 

At the start of the meeting, Mayor Nirenenberg noted that it was likely that city council members would go into executive session after. The mayor then presented City Manager, Erik Walsh. 

Walsh informed attendees that the city was notified Saturday night by HHS personnel that passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship off the coast of California would be brought to JBSA-Lackland. Upon being informed of this news, Walsh brought up the following issues to HHS personnel: 

  • the need for additional testing kits for the community
  • that potential evacuees be flown both in and out of JBSA-Lackland to minimize potential exposure 
  • written procedures on testing, quarantine, activity and intake/release procedures and processes 
  • a senior federal representative locally that has the authority to coordinate and communicate with city and county officials 
  • clarification on those who might test positive but don't require hospitalization, what property they would be held on 
  • clarification on the number of individuals and how many of those were Texans that would be coming to the state

Walsh also provided an update on the arrival of passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship that occurred Tuesday night. 98 passengers arrived at JBSA-Lackland, 91 of those were Texans, all were asymptomatic (not showing symptoms). The passengers had not been tested, but were reportedly screened before boarding the plane. Walsh stated that those passengers are not expected to be tested unless showing signs of symptoms. 

All of the passengers that have arrived and are expected to arrive are being/will be housed at Lackland. Walsh stated that no issues were reported at JBSA-Lackland overnight.

The second plane of around 120 individuals is expected to arrive at JBSA-Lackland sometime today.

Walsh noted the following items that are important for continued follow up with the federal government:

  • the coordinated release of individuals that haven't been tested
  • continued ways to update the community and inform them of the plans for the city 

There is no further information on an arrival time for the second plane of cruise ship passengers. 

San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood also provided an update to the city council that the department's current priority is to protect to community and to prevent community transmission. 

Mayor Nirenberg reiterated the city's combined efforts to "prevent, delay and ultimately contain any community transmission." 

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