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U.S. evacuees from China expected to arrive in Omaha Friday

Posted at 6:17 PM, Feb 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-07 16:15:43-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Wuhan coronavirus is continuing to spread.

On Friday a plane full of Americans is headed to Omaha from China for quarantine at Camp Ashland. To prepare for the arrival, officials went through a rundown of what Friday's events were going to be like. Dana Hall, a regional administrator with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said this will be the largest quarantine her team has been responsible for on U.S. soil.

"None of our staff has said they didn't want to do this," Hall said. "We signed up for this, it is why we're here."

Plane from coronavirus outbreak zone in China en route to Omaha

(Video of plane with evacuees taking off from California to Texas - the plane will stop in Omaha next)

Officials are expecting all ages from children to adults on the plane. An official manifest won't be submitted until wheels are up. The plane being used is a contracted civilian plane that will be cleaned after it's used.

"We will get a call when they're wheels up, when they leave China we'll get a call from there and when they're re-fueling and we'll get another call when they're refueling," Hall said. "We have a flight tracker the entire way so we will know what the distance is to get to us."

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has been working with public health and local departments on this project and officials want to assure the public that experts will be on site.

"Those people have deployed to numerous events so they have experience working in austere conditions and doing all kinds of events," Hall said.

When the plane arrives from China on Friday the passengers are going to head in to a isolated building for pre-screenings for two hours. After the screenings finish the passengers will head to a bus and drive directly to Camp Ashland. The Nebraska National Guard location is normally used for military training. Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac said training will still be done throughout the quarantine on a different part of the base.

"That won't change," Bohac said. "One of the standards from the Department of Defense was you can not take your space and turn it over if it compromises your training and readiness."

The quarantined civilians will have television, Wi-Fi, a gym and a facility for children to play in. Families who are staying at Camp Ashland will be housed together.

"They're essentially modest hotel rooms that typically house soldiers and students from other states," Bohac said.

Watch reporter Phil Bergman's story in the above video.

Officials handling the quarantine operation held a press conference Thursday morning at Nebraska Medicine to update the public:

Officials Address Coronavirus Quarantine Concerns