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California National Guard helps with COVID-19 positive patients at Asilomar

Grand princess passengers at Asilomar

PACIFIC GROVE, Calif. (KION)

UPDATE 3/29/20 2:08 p.m. - The COVID-19 operation at Asilomar is in its final days, according to the City of Pacific Grove.

An email from the city on Sunday writes that they were notified by CalOES that the care site is "currently in the demobilization process and the CalOES operation has concluded."

However, Monday through Wednesday, crews will be removing fencing and logistic items.

Quarantined passengers from the Grand Princess Cruise Ship have been at Asilomar for the last couple weeks, including people confirmed to be positive with COVID-19. CalOES told KION on March 24 that most of the passengers have already been sent home from the facility.

CalOES has also previously stated that there has been no final decision on if Asilomar will be a site used to house future COVID-19 positive patients. In Sunday's email, the city writes: "If circumstances change, the potential to re-open at a later date will remain a possibility. "

UPDATE 3/25/20 5:24 p.m. - The California National Guard tells KION that they are at Asilomar Hotel & Conference Grounds to help care for patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.

This is the first time we have been told the Pacific Grove location is housing COVID-19 positive patients from the Grand Princess Cruise Ship.

"Some of those [passengers] needed to have medical monitoring because they tested positive and could not remain on the DOD installation and needed a place to stay. So, one of the places the state put them was Asilomar, so they needed additional medical assistance and that is one of the things the California National guard Provided," said Colonel Daniel Markert.

We're told some of these patients are elderly, a group considered more vulnerable to COVID-19. The California National Guard will be monitoring them and checking vitals twice a day.

However, not all of the original passengers transported to Asilomar remain there. Monday night, a spokesperson for Cal OES told KION "nearly all the patients at Asilomar have been sent home and no final decision has been reached on whether the use of the site will continue." In a conference call last week, officials said that people would leave after their 14-day quarantine this week, unless they tested positive for COVID-19.

Local neighbors expressed concern regarding the news of positive cases so close to home.

"“I’ve been pretty vocal about what I think is a crazy choice of putting them in this community,” Pacific Grove resident Isaac Sharp said.

But these people are not walking around outside--they're quarantined in the building.

Sharp still said he's worried people working at Asilomar are also shopping in Pacific Grove grocery stores and gas stations.

“God bless them, but that’s how viruses get transmitted,” Sharp said.

So, while walking with his wife to get fresh air, the two expressed they were weary of getting too close to the conference grounds. The area is fenced off to the public and there has been no report of any impact to the outside world.

ORIGINAL REPORT:

The California Air National Guard has been deployed to Pacific Grove, where passengers from the Grand Princess Cruise Ship remained quarantined due to COVID-19 exposure, according to CalOES.

On Friday, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the National Guard was deployed with a first order of business - food distribution. Many reported deployments so far have been for that purpose.

However, in Pacific Grove, CalOES says ten Airmen from the 144th Fighter Wing are "assisting CalEMSA (California Emergency Medical Services Authority) with the care of 19 quarantined passengers from the Grand Princess Cruise ship."

These passengers are at Asilomar Hotel & Conference Grounds. In a teleconference last week, officials said the patients are expected to end their 14-day quarantine this week. In that briefing, it was reported 21 people are being housed in three small buildings that can accommodate up to 24 people. Pacific Grove Mayor Bill Peake said that he has been assured Asilomar personnel are safe and there is no added risk to the community. He added that there have been no reported medical issues in the area.

Officials won't say how many of the passengers have been tested for COVID-19 and if any tested positive.

Health / Monterey County / News / Top Stories

Aaron Groff

Aaron Groff is an evening co-anchor at KION News Channel 5/46.

Mary Coleman

Mary Coleman is a morning anchor and managing editor at KION News Channel 5/46.

Shannon Longworth

Shannon Longworth is a multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.

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