Costa Mesa, a city in California's suburban Orange County, convinced a federal judge to intervene in what's quite possibly the first overt display of "NIMBYism" - "Not In My Back Yard - connected tot he coronavirus outbreak in the US.
According to the Press Telegram, a local newspaper, city officials went berserk on Thursday when they caught wind of a plan to house coronavirus quarantine patients at the Fairview Development Center in Costa Mesa. On Friday, they asked US District Judge Josephine L. Staton to issue an injunction preventing the plan from moving forward.
The city filed the injunction on Friday, and a few hours later, it had its desired result: Stanton issued a temporary restraining order and scheduled a hearing for 2 pm on Monday. We suspect the outcome of that hearing will be closely followed by many in the area.
According to the LA Times, city officials said they had heard of a plan to bring 30-50 evacuees from the Diamond Princess to Fairview in the near future. They asked the federal government to stop launching these schemes "under the cover of darkness", leaving local officials and the community in the dark.
Since the government started bringing evacuees from infected areas back to the US, the Pentagon has spearheaded the job of quarantining patients, mainly housing them on military bases.
But soon, many fear that the number of patients who warrant a quarantine will overwhelm capacity, forcing the government to source potential venues from the private sector.
Of course, this is one area where China has an advantage: Communist Party officials can simply commandeer venues, since nobody would dare disobey them. But the question of where to house quarantined patients, and confronting the difficulty of doing so safely around large suburban populations like the communities sprawled across California,
In one deft stroke of the pen, the Press Telegram reporter lays bare the idiocy of health authorities claims that Americans face a 'low risk' of infection, and that they shouldn't panic.
If there's no reason to panic, then why are you making plans for massive quarantine facilities?
While the virus can cause severe illness and even death, health and infectious disease experts have said the risk to most Americans is low, noting that it is mainly passed between people who are in close contact via droplets from coughs or sneezes.
As Chinese scientists have already proven, the virus spreads through the goddamn air. The same air that these neighbors will be sharing with hundreds of infected patients. And on Saturday, a team of Chinese researchers said they had managed to isolate a strain of the virus from a patient's urine, raising new questions about the virus's ability to spread through sewer systems and ventilation systems (many suspect that the virus spread so widely aboard the 'Diamond Princess' because it had infected the water and the air).
State and city officials who spoke with the Press Telegram said the plan to potentially utilize Fairview in the virus response came from the CDC. Fairview is a 60-year-old, state-owned campus on Harbor Boulevard that was once home to about 2,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It’s now nearly empty as the state moved residents into 'community homes' and other alternative arranges that in many cases likely allowed them to slip back into homelessness amid California's homelessness boom (another factor that could soon complicate the virus response in America's largest and most economically vibrant state).
The problem with the plan, according to city officials, is that there are so many unknowns. The city doesn't know how many patients would be expected, or whether they would be infected or just under supervision.
Granted, the CDC probably hasn't determined any of that for certain either - it's still early days, and the important thing is that these patients have somewhere to be isolated.
City officials don’t yet know how many people might be placed at Fairview, whether they would have tested positive for or be showing symptoms of coronavirus (officially known as COVID-19), what protocols would be followed or how long the center might be used, Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley said. Americans returning from overseas who may have been exposed to the virus have typically been quarantined for 14 days.
"There’s just so many unknowns. We don’t know what the plan is," Foley said. "The city has not been part of any of the process that led to the consideration of the site and it would be unfair to not include us in this kind of significant decision that has great impact on our community."
While the virus can cause severe illness and even death, health and infectious disease experts have said the risk to most Americans is low, noting that it is mainly passed between people who are in close contact via droplets from coughs or sneezes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website late Friday listed 14 confirmed cases in the U.S., but a CNN article said the agency is reporting 34 domestic cases, including American cruise ship passengers who just returned to the U.S.
Costa Mesa’s court filing said federal authorities (including the CDC, Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Defense) and state agencies (including the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and Department of General Services) propose to relocate "35 to 50 patients already diagnosed with the coronavirus from a secure location on Travis Air Force Base" to Fairview, which was "not intended to house individuals infected with a highly contagious and deadly disease."
City officials are asking the federal court to block a transfer until the site is determined suitable to house the patients.
State Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris said in a statement that the federal government is evaluating "a number of potential secondary sites for the treatment of California coronavirus patients." She added she would be "shocked" if Fairview were chosen given its location amid a "densely populated" community.
It's just like in Beijing with the Communist Party's official narrative: How can you expect the people to believe you're winning the war when you're building 19 new hospitals in Wuhan?