As the first group of Americans evacuated from China prepares to leave quarantine at March Air Reserve Base, California, those who work on the base have faced public harassment stemming from unnecessary fear of the new coronavirus.
On Tuesday, the mandatory 14-day quarantine will be lifted for the 195 American citizens and their families, who were evacuated from Wuhan, China — the center of the outbreak — on Jan. 28.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 14 days is the maximum time period during which symptoms might develop after a person is exposed to the virus. None of the passengers has tested positive for the virus.
But those who work at March Air Reserve Base have been harassed both in person and online by Riverside County residents who fear that the coronavirus — most cases of which have been in China — might take hold in the United States.
Officials in Riverside County sent a letter to residents Monday, urging people to stop targeting base employees with "hurtful" statements online or in person.
A few base workers have been "accosted in uniform," the letter read. "This is not acceptable, and needs to stop."
According to the letter, those who work on the base have had no exposure to anyone who has been in quarantine.
"You do not need to exclude household or family members of [March Air Reserve Base] personnel, nor do you need to require them to obtain unnecessary 'clearance letters' from a physician or health authority," the letter read.
Since arriving at the base, two quarantined children developed fevers and were tested for the coronavirus. Both tests came back negative.
When the quarantine officially lifts Tuesday morning, all 195 evacuees will undergo a final health screening. It's anticipated that all will be healthy, and will be permitted to travel freely to their final destinations.