Thirty-four Georgians and a number of other east coast passengers aboard the coronavirus-stricken Grand Princess cruise ship are being transferred to Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Cobb County and face a two-week quarantine.
Gov. Brian Kemp said in a press release Sunday the passengers will undergo testing and be quarantined for possible exposure to COVID-19 after arriving late Monday night or early Tuesday morning.
"I am confident that Dobbins is equipped to provide high-quality care for Americans in need while keeping Georgia families safe, and our state stands ready to assist our federal partners if requested," Kemp said.
At least 21 of the 3,500 cruise passengers tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus discovered late last year in China, according to the Associated Press.
President Donald Trump, speaking earlier Friday at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said he would have preferred not to let the Grand Princess passengers disembark onto American soil.
“I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault,” Trump said. “And it wasn’t the fault of the people on the ship either. Okay? It wasn’t their fault either. And they are mostly Americans.”
The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus climbed to 16 after Florida health officials said late Friday night that two people who tested positive for the new coronavirus died in the state. The announcement was the first report of deaths on the East Coast, the AP reported.
The number of infections swelled to over 200, scattered across about half the states. Pennsylvania, Indiana, Minnesota and Nebraska reported their first cases.
Kemp said he is in constant communication with local, state and federal officials about the coronavirus and will continue to provide updates as soon as they become available.
Dobbins is not the only place the federal government is sending quarantined passengers after they are screened upon disembarking the ship. The U.S. Deparmtent of Health and Human Services said Sunday that nearly 1,000 Californians will be housed at Travis Air Force Base and Miramar Naval Air Station, and residents of other states will be split between Joint Base San Antonio Lackland in Texas and Dobbins in Georgia.
State officials say HHS will be responsible for the care, security, transportation and food for those in quarantine, and anyone who tests positive will be transferred to a hospital or other location designated by HHS.
Georgia has five confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Fulton (3), Cobb and Polk counties, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. Confirmatory tests being performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta are pending on presumptive positive tests of which two are in Gwinnett County and another in Fulton.
The state health department has not responded to multiple requests for comment on how many people in Georgia have been tested for COVID-19 since test kits became available Thursday.
DPH continues to advise residents that the risk of COVID-19 to the general public is low, and recommends prevention measures such as washing hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching your face and staying home when you are sick.