You probably heard about the fifty Americans who were on a cruise ship that became infected with the WuFlu and were finally being flown back home, right? While that sounded like good news for them, the not-so-good news is that our government really didn’t have much of a plan for what to do with them when they arrived. They landed at Travis Air Force Base, but regulations don’t allow them to be kept there long term so a new solution was needed. Someone came up with the idea to use the Fairview Developmental Center in the city of Costa Mesa, California.

There’s just one problem. Nobody told the people or municipal government of Costa Mesa that they were about to have a portion of the pandemic dumped in the middle of their community. When the word leaked out, people immediately took to the streets in protest and the city went to court to halt the transfer. A judge agreed, so now we’re stuck waiting while all of this gets sorted out. (Washington Times)

A court temporarily blocked the U.S. government from sending up to 50 people infected with a new virus from China to a Southern California city for quarantine after local officials argued that the plan lacked details about how the community would be protected from the outbreak.

A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order late Friday to halt the transportation of anyone who has tested positive for the new coronavirus to Costa Mesa, a city of 110,000 in the heart of Orange County. U.S. District Judge Josephine L. Stanton scheduled a hearing on the issue Monday.

City officials quickly sought court intervention after learning from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services that U.S. officials planned to start moving patients to a state-owned facility in Costa Mesa as early as Sunday.

Normally I find myself criticizing the various Not In My Back Yard groups that pop up because they generally tend to be hypocrites of one flavor or another. But in this case, you do have to have some sympathy for the people of Costa Mesa. Not only didn’t they volunteer for this duty, but they weren’t even told about it. And it doesn’t sound like the most well thought out plan imaginable either.

Who came up with the idea to use the Fairview Developmental Center as a place to quarantine the people with this highly unstable virus? A brief search reveals that Fairview is a largely abandoned mental hospital that used to house up to 2,000 people with “intellectual and developmental disabilities.” In other words, it did have a medical purpose of sorts and there are plenty of beds, but that’s not the sort of place that would have been built with the type of restrictions and facilities you’d need to contain a highly contagious disease.

The crazy part is that we already know how to effectively quarantine people in situations like this. The CDC has to do it all the time and there are Level 4 facilities where research is done on deadly specimens like smallpox and the plague. The technology already exists. But apparently, we don’t have any such facilities set up and on standby when a new version of the plague breaks out? We’re only talking about fifty people in this case but it could be a lot more soon.

Did we learn nothing from SARS, Ebola and all the rest? I don’t know why I’d assumed that our government was better prepared than this, but it’s kind of shocking to learn that the WuFlu was already going wild, we had a bunch of people stuck on a cruise ship in Japan and it was only then that somebody back in the lower 48 scratched their head and said, “Hmmm… we should probably find someplace to put these people.”

The moment this thing broke out in China I was expressing concerns over whether or not we were ready and the apparent lack of any sense of urgency on the part of officials in the United States. Right now this disease is in more than a dozen countries and it appears to have legs. In case you hadn’t noticed, the stock market is crashing today because of the impact that outbreak is having on Chinese commerce.

Two days ago, the World Health Organization declared that the coronavirus is on the verge of becoming a pandemic. The only saving grace in sight thus far is that the disease only appears to be fatal in less than 5% of cases. But if we’re not ready for this one, what will we do when the real Captain Trips shows up at our doorstep? We should have regional quarantine centers near every major airport and seaport. They can remain relatively cheap to maintain when not in use and then be able to come up to full speed on short notice. Proper air filtration and trained personnel who can be brought in to service the infected and conduct testing have to be mandatory.

Yes, that’s going to cost money. But do you think it’s worth it? If not, perhaps you can volunteer to take Costa Mesa’s place and just have all of the infected dumped into an abandoned factory in your town.