Patient Who Tested Positive for Coronavirus Was Allowed to Leave Quarantine in San Antonio


The COVID-19 virus is shown under a microscope in this image supplied by the federal government. - CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL
  • Centers for Disease Control
  • The COVID-19 virus is shown under a microscope in this image supplied by the federal government.
A person once quarantined at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland but released into the larger community tested “weakly positive” for the virus that causes COVID-19, health officials confirmed Sunday.

The individual has since been placed back into the federal quarantine at the base, they said.

San Antonio Metro Health has been tracking the person's movements and interactions to determine whether others may have been exposed to the coronavirus. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it's now contacting people who may have been in contact with the individual.

“This information will be shared with the public when completed,” Metro Health officials said in an emailed statement.

The person in question was treated and isolated after returning to the United States from Wuhan, China on a federally chartered flight. After receiving two negative test results, showing no symptoms and meeting release criteria, the the individual was cleared to leave, CDC said in a statement.

The revelation brought instant condemnation from local officials.

In a written statement, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg called the CDC's decision to release the person “unacceptable."

“We will do everything within our power to ensure that the community is kept safe and the exposure risk remains low,” Nirenberg said Sunday. “The federal quarantine period for the Diamond Princess cruise ship evacuees ends tomorrow, March 2. I have asked the CDC to do everything in their power to ensure that those who are released pose no risk to the community.”

Lloyd Doggett, a Democratic congressman representing San Antonio, said the release shows the Trump administration's inability to handle the emerging health crisis. Even as health officials warned that the coronavirus could easily become a pandemic, the president has sought to downplay its seriousness and to blame the news organizations for keeping the public informed.

“This is yet another troubling episode in the chaotic mismanagement of this looming threat," Doggett said. "Releasing an evacuee prior to negative test confirmation by CDC in Atlanta is completely unjustified. It is vital this not happen with any others in quarantine, who are scheduled for Monday release."

Stay on top of San Antonio news and views. Sign up for our Weekly Headlines Newsletter.

San Antonio Current works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of San Antonio and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep San Antonio's true free press free.