Orange County residents protested in front of Santa Ana’s federal courthouse in attempts to block the February 20th injunction to transfer 30-50 coronavirus patients to Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa.
*UPDATE* Feb 28 4:56 PM: Mayor Katrina Foley posted on her Facebook “Great news. The federal government has filed a notice with the court that it no longer plans to place infected Diamond Princess passengers at Fairview. This is at least a temporary victory for the citizens of Costa Mesa and Orange County. But the government has not promised to place future infected persons there, so the battle is not over. We will continue to ask the court to prohibit the government from using this completely inappropriate facility for housing people infected with a highly communicable and potentially fatal disease. ”
Quick Facts: Orange County & The Coronavirus (COVID-19)
On February 25th the Center for Disease control and Prevention announced that community spread of COVID-19 is likely to occur in the United States.
The John Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering dashboard tracks COVID-19 cases around the world in real time.
Currently there is one case of coronavirus in Orange County, two cases in San Diego and one case in Los Angeles. There are 11 total COVID-19 cases in California. Worldwide confirmed COVID-19 cases are counted at 83,862 total.
1. Fairview Developmental Center
On February 20th the Department of Health and Human Services and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services placed an injunction to transfer 50 COVID-19 patients from the Travis Air Force Base near Sacramento to the Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa.
The Fairview Developmental Center was chosen as a prime location because it has bathrooms in each room, has not been in use and is surrounded by a golf course to provide a natural buffer.
According to the temporary restraining order court documents, the transfer would be conducted without an adequate site survey and no safe guards against transmission of the disease.
Cases considered for transfer to Costa Mesa are speculated to be persons from the Diamond Princess Cruise that are infected and under quarantine but do not require hospitalization.
2. Costa Mesa’s Temporary Restraining Order
On February 21st U.S. District Judge Josephine Staton temporarily restrained the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services from transferring up to 50 patients carrying the virus to the Fairview Developmental Center.
The city’s defense states the Fairview Developmental Center is unequipped and unsuitable for quarantine purposes. The City of Costa Mesa is requesting a site survey to check for suitability and allow resources to be marshalled in the event a quarantine is implemented.
According to court documents, “Fairview is an inappropriate location for a quarantine, as there is no way to restrict access to or from the facility; it is in some places about two hundred yards from residential neighborhoods, and there are no security measures in place to keep the quarantined individuals isolated from each other and from the residents of Costa Mesa, a city of over 113,000 people, with a population density of over 7,100 people per square mile. “
The court documents also state, “As the federal government is already able to house, care for, and quarantine the infected people at Travis Air Force Base and can rely upon the resources of its own public health officials to maintain their care, it is most appropriate for the federal government to continue bearing the burden of this quarantine in a safe location, such as Travis Air Force Base, until the adequate precautions can be taken to transfer them to a non-military facility.”
- City of Costa Mesa Files Legal Action to Halt Use of Fairview Developmental Center As COVID-19 Quarantine Facility – City of Costa Mesa
- Judge Agrees To Extend Temporary Restraining Order Preventing The State And Federal Government From Moving Infected Novel Coronavirus Patients To Fairview Developmental Center – CityofCostaMesaNews.com
- County of Orange Board of Supervisors to File Amicus Brief in Support of City of Costa Mesa – OCGov.com
- Statement of Support for City of Costa Mesa’s Legal Action to Temporarily Halt Use of Fairview Developmental Center as COVID-19 Quarantine Facility – OC Health Care Agency
3. What’s Next
The hearing for the transfer of 50 infected COVID-19 patients to Fairview Developmental Center will resume Monday, March 3. You can get up-to-date information on the litigation from Costamesaca.gov.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory, said in a press briefing on February 26th, ” It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness.”
She recommends people prepare for COVID-19 through implementing non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs.) There are three categories of NPIs – personal, community and environmental.
Personal NPI’s can be as simple as washing hands and voluntary confinement after exposure to a sick person. Community NPIs include social distance, closing down schools and businesses and cancelling large events. Environmental NPIs require everyone to consistently wipe down frequently touched surfaces.
Dr. Messonnier also stated ” I understand this whole situation may seem overwhelming and that disruption to everyday life may be severe, but these are things that people need to start thinking about now.”