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Diamond Princess cruise evacuees to be released in an orderly way that mitigates community concerns about potential exposure

Published on Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Diamond Princess cruise evacuees to be released in an orderly way that mitigates community concerns about potential exposure

For members of the media, please contact:
Laura Mayes, City of San Antonio (210) 207-1337
Michelle Vigil, City of San Antonio (210) 207-8172
For questions from the general public, please contact:
COVID-19 Hotline (210) 207-5779




SAN ANTONIO (March 3, 2020) — The more than 120 evacuees from the Diamond Princess cruise ship will be released from quarantine today in an orderly way to minimize potential exposure to the San Antonio community. After pausing the scheduled released yesterday at the City of San Antonio’s request, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has modified its release protocol and provided a detailed departure plan. Only individuals who have been symptom-free for the full 14-day quarantine period will be released.


“As Mayor of this city, my foremost concern is preventing the spread of the coronavirus to the local community,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “I’m pleased that the CDC has made changes, and I’m comfortable that the plan as presented will minimize the risk of exposure. The release will be coordinated, not prolonged over several days, and passengers will not stay in local hotels and will go directly to the airport.”


Several buses will transport passengers from Lackland Air Force Base directly to the airport in shifts that correspond with their flight times. Upon arrival, each group will be met by airport representatives, who will take them directly to the ticket counters, assist with baggage and facilitate movement through security.


Some Texas residents have requested rental cars to drive home. These individuals will be transported on the same buses from Lackland, and rental cars will be arranged at the airport.


“This is the type of expedited and coordinated departure we needed from our federal partners,” said Mayor Nirenberg. “The community can continue to feel confident that the necessary steps are being taken to protect all of us from this virus, and there has not been a case of community transmission. I also want to express our gratitude for the evacuees’ patience as we worked to ensure the utmost safety for everyone involved.”


Additionally, in light of what occurred with the patient who was released over the weekend, the CDC has notified the City that it has modified its protocol in two ways:

  • A previously symptomatic quarantine individual will only be released if that person has two sequential negative tests within 24 hours.
  • No person will be released if there are any pending test results.


“The risk to the general public remains low. I want to remind the community that these are individuals who showed no symptoms over the course of the 14-day quarantine. We owe it to our fellow Americans not to stigmatize them and allow them to go back to their homes and families,” said Assistant City Manager Colleen Bridger.


Passengers who developed symptoms during the quarantine and tested positive for COVID-19 remain in isolation and are not being released today. These individuals must remain in isolation until free from symptoms and have two negative tests within 24 hours apart to meet the criteria for release.


Information for the Public:
Metro Health continues to maintain an up-to-date website which will provide current updates to anyone seeking information on the situation:


Information regarding the Novel Coronavirus is also available in American Sign Language at this link:


How do people become infected with COVID-19?
Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:
  • Respiratory droplets released into the air by coughing and sneezing;
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands;
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands; and


What are the symptoms?
Patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath


At this time, CDC believes that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.


How can I avoid infection with COVID-19?
The best way to prevent infection is to take precautions similar to the precautions you take to avoid the flu. CDC always recommends these everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

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Author: Melanie Morales (GPA)

Categories: City News, Health, COVID