San Antonio mayor declares health emergency over coronavirus concerns

San Antonio’s mayor Monday declared a public health emergency Monday after a woman who was released from quarantine at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland tested positive for the new coronavirus after spending about 12 hours in public. (Illustration provided by US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP GraphicsBank)
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SAN ANTONIO (AP) San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg declared a public health emergency Monday after a woman who was released from quarantine at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland tested positive for the new coronavirus after spending about 12 hours in public.

The declaration, which is effective for seven days unless the San Antonio City Council renews or continues it, activates the city’s emergency management plan and authorizes officials “to take any actions necessary to promote health and suppress disease, including quarantine, examining and regulating hospitals, regulating ingress and egress from the city, and finding those who do not comply with the city’s rules.”

The declaration bans “ingress into and travel through the City of San Antonio from Lackland by those persons that have been quarantined in the facility.”

“No previously quarantined person shall be permitted to enter the City of San Antonio until further notice.”

Earlier Monday San Antonio officials were asking for more patient testing for the new coronavirus before a group of quarantined people are released in the city.

More than 120 passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship were set to be released Monday following a two-week quarantine in San Antonio.

The woman, who had been evacuated to San Antonio from China was released from quarantine after she had two negative tests.

But after her release, a third test came back as “weakly positive."

Officials say the woman visited a shopping mall and hotel before she was returned to isolation.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the patient met its requirements for release: they were asymptomatic, and consecutive sets of tests taken more than 24 hours apart came back negative.

The CDC said it decided to bring the individual back into isolation out of an abundance of caution.

KENS TV in San Antonio reported local public health agencies are working to track down those who came into contact with the individual.

Nirenberg earlier questioned the CDC's practices.

“The fact that the CDC allowed the public to be exposed to a patient with a positive COVID-19 reading is unacceptable,” Nirenberg said. “We will hold the CDC accountable."