Two hundred American evacuees landed Wednesday at a U.S. military base in California after leaving China, where the coronavirus is spreading rapidly. 

The flight was operated by Kalitta Air and was met by several law enforcement vehicles on the tarmac. The plane was chartered by the U.S. State Department. It made a stop in Anchorage, Alaska, to refuel and screen passengers before arriving in California. All passengers were cleared to continue.

Local officials are set to work in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to facilitate additional screenings of the passengers to “ensure these people can get back home and not put anyone at risk,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser of the Riverside County Department of Public Health.

The U.S. Defense Department is working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to get housing for all the passengers and provide care if any individuals are ill, according to Defense Department spokeswoman Alyssa Fara

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Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer said, “For many of us directly involved, this has been a moving and uplifting experience. The whole plane erupted in cheers when the crew said, ‘Welcome home to the United States.'”

The coronavirus has killed 132 people and infected nearly 6,000 others in China, mostly in the city of Wuhan. Ninety-one cases have already been reported outside of China, including five in the United States. The CDC investigated 165 potential cases in 36 states. 68 tested negative, while 92 are still pending. 

The plane was prepared to take 240 passengers, but the flight left with 201 people after some intended passengers failed get through screenings and other processes. 

The State Department said that priority was given to U.S. citizens who are “most at risk for contracting coronavirus” if they stay in the city. There are about 1,000 Americans living in Wuhan. 


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