Judge bars moving coronavirus patients to California facility

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Feb. 25 (UPI) — A federal judge in California has again temporarily postponed sending former passengers of a cruise ship who test positive for COVID-19 to a Costa Mesa facility.

U.S. District Judge Josephine Staton ordered the seven-day delay on Monday so state and federal officials can answer the public’s questions about the decision to house evacuees from a coronavirus-infected cruise ship at the Fairview Developmental Center.

Staton said she issued the delay until March 2 so a decision can be made “in a rational, open and transparent manner.”

Last week, the United States evacuated more than 300 citizens from the Diamond Princess in Japan and returned them to the United States with plans for them to be quarantined for the coronavirus’ 14-day incubation period.

On Thursday, Costa Mesa was informed by the federal government that it planned to move up to 50 coronavirus patients from the cruise ship to the Fairview Developmental Center starting Sunday, raising concerns among the public about possible contamination of a coronavirus that has killed more than 2,600 people since it emerged in China late last year.

The city filed an injunction on Saturday, a day before the evacuees were to be moved to the California facility, and within hours Staton granted in its favor, preventing the facility from being converted into a quarantine site until at least Monday’s hearing.

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Following Staton’s ruling, Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley said she was “grateful” for the extension.

“While we have nothing but compassion for those who are suffering from this virus, the health and welfare of our community is our top priority,” Foley said in a statement. “Bringing those infected into this densely populated area is simply the wrong approach.”

The Orange County city argued it was irresponsible to transport infected patients to its facility until a site survey had been conducted and that the evacuees shouldn’t be housed in such a densely populated city as Costa Mesa, which is home to some 113,000 people.

“The city still has not received critical information needed to keep the public safe and to be an effective partner in responding to any emergency arising from the use of Fairview to isolate coronavirus patients,” Costa Mesa City Hall said in a statement.

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