Donald Trump’s State Department went against the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and flew 14 Americans who tested positive for the coronavirus home from Japan, reports The Washingon Post. The U.S. residents were part of the group who were evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was put under quarantine after passengers started falling ill.
After the evacuation but before the U.S. residents had boarded a plane for home, news came through that the 14 were infected. The CDC wanted to leave the small group in Japan to be treated in local hospitals, and the State Department had already promised that no one who tested positive for coronavirus would be allowed to board the planes.
The State Department and a Trump official wanted 14 patients with coronavirus to fly home with the rest of the cruise passengers. The CDC objected, lost & demanded to be taken off the news release. @ByLenaSun @LennyMBernstein @ShibaniMahtani @JoelAchenbach https://t.co/kLD8WDfEDD— Laura Helmuth (@laurahelmuth) February 20, 2020
The department did a 180, however, and along with a “top Trump administration health official,” went against the CDC and allowed them to fly home in segregated plastic-lined enclosures. CDC officials were still concerned that they could infect the other passengers, seeing as airplane passengers all have to share the same air.
“It was like the worst nightmare,” said an anonymous senior U.S. official involved in the decision, according to the Post. “Quite frankly, the alternative could have been pulling grandma out in the pouring rain, and that would have been bad, too.”
The State Department promised the CDC no one confirmed positive for COVID-19 would be flown to the US.— Virginia True Blue Resister (@virginia_true) February 21, 2020
They lied. Against the advice of the CDC, 14 infected patients flew home.
Why did Trump dare defy the orders of the CDC?#wtpEBRC#wtp2020@wtp__2020https://t.co/YdKLkjmnIw
Not sure that Japanese hospitals are as bad as standing in the pouring rain, but okay. CDC officials were so upset about the State Department’s decision that they demanded to be left out of the press release announcing the return of the infect U.S. residents.
The other passengers on the two planes that carried all 328 Americans home were also unhappy to learn that the 14 infected individuals were on the same flights, feeling that they had been re-exposed unnecessarily and without being informed.
Why listen to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention over Trump’s gut feeling & the experts at the State Department?
— Ange (@SouRgrapeS417) February 20, 2020
“We were upset that people were knowingly put on the plane who were positive,” said retired nurse Vana Mendizabal, who had survived the 12-day quarantine on the Diamond Princess with her husband. “I think those people should not have been allowed on the plane. They should have been transferred to medical facilities in Japan. We feel we were re-exposed.”
The 14 infected passengers have doubled the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. They are currently under quarantine at military bases in California and Texas.