UPDATE 11:30 A.M. Sunday:
Governor Kay Ivey issued a statement Sunday morning saying Wuhan coronavirus patients will NOT be coming to a FEMA facility in Anniston:
Late Friday night, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) informed me about their proposal to transport Americans who have tested positive with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) from the Diamond Princess cruise ship to a FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) in Anniston. Sensing the urgency, I quickly informed the offices of Senators Richard Shelby and Doug Jones and Congressman Mike Rogers, as well as Dr. Scott Harris with the Alabama Department of Public Health.
On Saturday, it appears that a press release from HHS was inadvertently, and perhaps prematurely, sent notifying the State of Alabama that these individuals were scheduled to begin transporting to Alabama as early as Wednesday.
Obviously concerned, there were a number of conversations between HHS, the White House, my staff and me, as well as two rounds of conference calls including the senior staff of the Congressional Delegation to try to clarify HHS’ intent and reasoning for selecting Alabama. On one of the calls, they informed us that the CDP in Anniston is only being considered as a “back-up” plan, in case they run out of alternative locations. They assured us on both calls that no decision had been made to send anyone to Anniston.
I made it abundantly clear that while the State of Alabama wants to work closely with the Trump Administration to assist fellow Americans who may have tested positive for the Coronavirus, there were some grave concerns about why the site in Anniston was chosen and how, logistically, this would play out in the event this back-up site were to be eventually activated.
First and foremost, my priority is to protect the people of Alabama. While locating these folks in Alabama is currently a backup plan, this is a serious issue and we need to be fully aware of the facts regarding the potential of housing them in Anniston.
I am grateful to Senator Shelby and his team for coordinating today’s effort to send officials from HHS to Alabama to provide further clarity to this situation. I also appreciate Congressman Rogers for speaking with the President and informing him of the concern of the people of Alabama. Through these coordinated efforts, we will begin a process that will be transparent, and hopefully find a solution of which we are united and comfortable with.”Alabama Governor Kay Ivey
In a separate statement Sunday, the Alabama Department of Public Health confirmed the plan is only a contingency, saying no patients were currently scheduled to be transferred to the facility.
ADPH said HHS was meeting with local officials in Anniston Sunday to discuss the plan further.
UPDATE 7 P.M.
Calhoun County officials expect cruise ship passengers who test positive for the Coronavirus to arrive Wednesday to the FEMA Center in Anniston.
Calhoun County 911 posted to their Facebook account:
Calhoun County 911 is closely monitoring the plan to transfer quarantined patients testing positive for coronavirus from aboard the Diamond Princess Cruise ship to Anniston, Alabama. These patients are due to arrive on Wednesday at the FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness facility at Fort McClellan. We are assured that proper containment measures are in place.
ANNISTON, Ala. (WIAT) — Saturday the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston will be used as a place for some of the American passengers from the cruise ship in Japan.
The full statement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services follows:
HHS is taking precautions to protect the health of all Americans from Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). To that end, HHS and FEMA agreed to use a federal facility, the FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama, as a place for some of the American passengers from the Diamond Princess to stay. These are passengers whom the federal government evacuated back to the U.S. from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.
The passengers who will stay at the Center tested positive for COVID-19, although at this time they either do not have symptoms or have mild flu-like symptoms. Any of the evacuees who become seriously ill will be transported to pre-identified hospitals for medical care. Under the HHS-FEMA agreement, the Center for Domestic Preparedness will provide the housing, and HHS will provide basic medical care and all other support services for these returning passengers. Passengers will stay in a separate area from the Center’s training participants and will remain at the Center until they are medically cleared.
The Center has unique facilities and routinely offers week-long, hands-on training for large groups of professionals from federal, state and local emergency management agencies, hospitals, public health agencies, and law enforcement agencies on disaster response.