Story at a glance

  • The city of San Antonio filed a temporary restraining order against the CDC to prevent quarantine patients from leaving after the federally sanctioned two weeks.
  • This comes after a patient who tested positive for the coronavirus was temporarily released.

After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mistakenly and temporarily released an individual in San Antonio, Texas, who tested positive for COVID-19, local officials are working to prevent the CDC from releasing more quarantine patients.

The San Antonio Express described city officials’ efforts to prevent the federal government from lifting the quarantines for 122 evacuees from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, who are currently housed at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. Local officials unsuccessfully went to court and filed for a temporary restraining order against the CDC and its jurisdiction over the quarantined evacuees. 

The city reportedly argued that the evacuees should be quarantined for another two weeks past the scheduled release date for further coronavirus testing. The court filing has also said that releasing the quarantined population would create “a public health threat.”

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U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez rejected the request, and he justified the decision by saying that the U.S. government’s current standard of a two week quarantine in conjunction with two negative tests for the virus are “sufficient to prevent transmission of spread of COVID-19.” Rodriguez further stated that the court “has no authority” to question the current CDC standards. 

“The United States government is, in effect, washing its own hands further of this quarantine,” the ruling continued. 

Those under quarantine are now caught between the state and federal government orders after back-to-back quarantine, first on the Diamond Princess ship and then on the military base in San Antonio. 

However, Rodriguez’s ruling reportedly indicated that local health officials can still issue their own quarantine orders through two emergency declarations filed in San Antonio earlier that day.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg told reporters that the CDC’s “hands are tied” on a local level, explaining that “They have to go by the guidance of their higher-ups, and that’s what they’re doing. And what we’ve communicated with them and what we’re working to do is to ensure that there’s no additional exposure to the public based on that quarantine mission.”

Currently, the city of San Antonio is under a state of local public health emergency, as declared by Nirenberg. 

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The Express reports that as of Monday evening, the evacuees who have not tested positive for the coronavirus or visibly developed symptoms were still quarantined by U.S. marshals. 

Continued quarantine for those who have not yet tested positive or developed symptoms is likely a reaction to the patient released after two negative readings that ultimately yielded to a third positive test. 

The rise of community spread in the U.S. has also likely pushed the CDC to expand who health officials should test, including asymptomatic individuals. 

Published on Mar 03, 2020