Coronavirus patients not coming to Alabama, lawmakers report

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UPDATE (2/24/20): Anniston city leaders will be hosting a press conference about Coronavirus carriers not coming to the area and explaining how the situation came to be.


2:20 P.M.

Alabama lawmakers report victims of the Coronavirus will not be sent to Anniston FEMA center.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) reports he spoke with President Donald Trump and the plan to bring cruise ship members affected by the Coronavirus has been canceled, he said in a tweet.

This development comes after the city of Anniston and the Calhoun County Commission held public information meetings to alert the communities in the area Saturday and Sunday.

Sunday, a follow-up emergency meeting was called to hear from the community members first-hand about their concerns. During the public-input segment, Tim Hodges, a Calhoun County Commissioner, reported the update from state lawmakers.

“This is a training facility, not a quarantine facility,” Hodges said as he announced that Alabama lawmakers have reported the victims will not be coming to Alabama to ensure the safety of all Alabamians.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released an updated statement Sunday evening stating the Anniston FEMA Center is “not needed at this time.”

As part of the federal government’s ongoing efforts to plan and prepare to protect Americans from COVID-19 and collaborate with our state and local partners to address a rapidly evolving situation, we are identifying alternative sites that would meet the most immediate potential need to safely house and care for Diamond Princess passengers who have tested positive for COVID-19. The FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama, was one site determined to be suitable and effective, but is not needed at this time. As always, any action that HHS takes, working with our federal, state and local partners, to address this public health emergency will be done in a way that protects both those infected with the virus and other citizens as well.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Servies

Governor Kay. Ivey also tweeted thanking Trump for his continued support for the state of Alabama.

Monday, Anniston City officials and Rep. Rogers will meet to have a news conference. CBS 42 will continue to follow this story.

In a phone interview, Rogers told CBS 42 the purpose of Monday’s news conference is to thank the president for getting involved in the process of bringing Coronavirus patients to Alabama.

“In fact the president told me when he called me this afternoon that somebody needed to be fired over this, the way it was handled,” Rogers said. “I am going to be putting some attention on making sure that in the future there is an appropriate process to notify – at a minimum – the local community leadership before you announce that you’re bringing people into their community.”

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — On Saturday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services made an announcement that cruise ship passengers aboard the Diamond Princess who test positive for Coronavirus will be sent to the Anniston FEMA Center.

Since the announcement, the city of Anniston and Calhoun County held a news conference in response to the release reporting they were not informed of the use of the FEMA Center until Saturday morning.

Sunday, Governor Kay Ivey released a statement regarding the use of the center. The governor said the press release regarding the Coronavirus quarantine center was sent prematurely amid conversations between Health and Human Services, the White House, the governor and her staff.

Her statement follows.

Late Friday night, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) informed me about their proposal to transport Americans who have tested positive with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) from the Diamond Princess cruise ship to a FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) in Anniston. Sensing the urgency, I quickly informed the offices of Senators Richard Shelby and Doug Jones and Congressman Mike Rogers, as well as Dr. Scott Harris with the Alabama Department of Public Health. 

On Saturday, it appears that a press release from HHS was inadvertently, and perhaps prematurely, sent notifying the State of Alabama that these individuals were scheduled to begin transporting to Alabama as early as Wednesday. 

Obviously concerned, there were a number of conversations between HHS, the White House, my staff and me, as well as two rounds of conference calls including the senior staff of the Congressional Delegation to try to clarify HHS’ intent and reasoning for selecting Alabama. On one of the calls, they informed us that the CDP in Anniston is only being considered as a “back-up” plan, in case they run out of alternative locations. They assured us on both calls that no decision had been made to send anyone to Anniston.

I made it abundantly clear that while the State of Alabama wants to work closely with the Trump Administration to assist fellow Americans who may have tested positive for the Coronavirus, there were some grave concerns about why the site in Anniston was chosen and how, logistically, this would play out in the event this back-up site were to be eventually activated.   

First and foremost, my priority is to protect the people of Alabama. While locating these folks in Alabama is currently a backup plan, this is a serious issue and we need to be fully aware of the facts regarding the potential of housing them in Anniston.

I am grateful to Senator Shelby and his team for coordinating today’s effort to send officials from HHS to Alabama to provide further clarity to this situation. I also appreciate Congressman Rogers for speaking with the President and informing him of the concern of the people of Alabama. Through these coordinated efforts, we will begin a process that will be transparent, and hopefully find a solution of which we are united and comfortable with.

Gov. Kay Ivey

In addition, The Alabama Department Public Health released a statement Saturday afternoon, noting that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says the Anniston FEMA Center will only be used as a backup if facilities in other states are unable to handle the passengers who test positive for Coronavirus.

The statement follows.

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) has learned that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has evaluated the possibility of using the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama, as a backup location for some Americans infected by the virus that causes COVID-19 (also known as 2019-nCOV or novel coronavirus). HHS has stated that this is only a contingency plan and that there are no patients currently scheduled to be transferred to the Anniston facility. According to HHS, the FEMA Center would only be used as a backup if facilities in other states are unable to handle these passengers.  HHS is planning to meet today with local officials in Anniston to discuss this plan.  Americans were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship who were evacuated by the federal government to the U.S. from Japan. ADPH will release additional information as it is received from HHS.

Alabama Dept. of Public Health

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