The city said it was told the 50 patients have been diagnosed with the virus and added that the federal government and state of California planned to transfer them from Travis Air Force Base in California to the Fairview Development Center in Costa Mesa, about 40 miles south of Los Angeles. In its lawsuit against the federal government, several government agencies, the state of California and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, the city repeatedly accused federal and state authorities of not informing or working with local authorities on the planned transfer.
The lawsuit’s allegation that up to 50 patients were diagnosed with coronavirus does not match up with the number of confirmed cases reported by the federal government on Friday. It remains unclear whether the lawsuit conflates people at risk of contracting the disease because they were in environments with greater exposure to the virus with actual confirmed cases.
The Department of Health and Human Services said it does not comment on pending litigation. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, which is within HHS and is responsible for coordinating medical facilities, declined to comment.
“The Defendants’ plan was announced at the eleventh hour, with no efforts to include local government leaders or local public health officials,” the city wrote in its lawsuit. “The Plaintiffs now seeks to prevent Costa Mesa from becoming ground zero to a state and potentially nation-wide public health crisis caused because the state and federal governments have not sought to include local officials and emergency personnel in the planning and execution of their efforts.”
The restraining order prohibits state and federal government authorities from transporting anyone with coronavirus or exposed to the disease to Costa Mesa before a hearing at 2 p.m. on Monday at the Santa Ana federal courthouse, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The city argued that the Fairview Development Center, which previously served as a residential facility for people with disabilities, was “dilapidated” and surrounded by residential neighborhoods, meaning that housing infected patients there could pose a risk to public health. Costa Mesa also argued that Fairview was not equipped to handle coronavirus patients because it was recently deemed inappropriate for use as an emergency shelter by the California State Department of General Services without two years’ and $25 million worth of work.
The CDC also said Friday that it has changed the way it counts confirmed cases. One category will be for Americans who were repatriated by the State Department from the cruise ship and from previous State Department evacuations from Wuhan, China, the center of the outbreak. These people were at higher risk for infection, and more are expected to test positive. The total number of repatriated patients with covid-19 infections is 31.
A second group of confirmed cases is made up of 14 U.S. patients who picked up the infection either by traveling to China or from close contact with a family member.
Lena H. Sun and Julie Tate contributed to this report.
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