The city of Costa Mesa, California has won a preliminary injunction to temporarily block the transfer of Americans who have tested positive for the coronavirus to a closed mental-health facility in the city. District Judge Josephine Staton noted that the city does not have veto power over state and federal quarantine decisions, but said that federal and state officials should answer the questions of Costa Mesa residents concerned about the plan. The parties will return to her courtroom on March 2 for a ruling on the case.
The move blocks the transport of anyone infected with or exposed to the coronavirus from Travis Air Force Base to Costa Mesa’s 125-acre Fairview Developmental Center, a state-owned facility that formerly housed people with mental disabilities. It would hold only people who did not require hospitalization for up to 30 days of isolation and care. The state argued during the court proceedings that if the Costa Mesa facility was the only appropriate and suitable state-owned site for infected people and if it wasn’t used, Solano County and surrounding counties would be charged with caring for the individuals in hospitals and hotels.
Local Costa Mesa officials and residents expressed concerns that the Fairview Developmental Center was in the middle of residential neighborhoods. They also noted that the local children often used the facility’s fields for soccer practices, games and other events. They want to know who would care for people who tested positive or were potentially exposed to the virus, how many quarantined individuals might be moved to Costa Mesa, and what would happen if they developed symptoms and required hospitalization.
Rapidly expanding outbreaks in five countries – South Korea, Iran, Italy, China, and Japan – are raising fears of a coronavirus pandemic on multiple continents. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of infected Americans has reached 53, with another estimated 140 tests still pending. While the U.S. has quarantine “stations” in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and 17 other cities, none of them are designed for long-term stays and monitoring. With previous outbreaks, there has been an emphasis on home confinement and careful attention to the health of those potentially infected.