Alabama city rejects federal plan to bring in coronavirus patients

The federal government has abandoned plans to transfer patients infected with the new strain of coronavirus to a city in Alabama after local and state officials say they were not kept abreast of the plans, according to a CNN report.

HHS was considering using a Federal Emergency Management Agency Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Ala., as a backup location for Americans who have contracted the new virus, dubbed COVID-19.

The patients transported primarily would have been COVID-19 patients who tested positive for the virus while on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. There were 53 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. as of Feb. 24, 36 of whom were patients evacuated from the cruise ship in Japan.

But local and state officials said at a news conference in Anniston Feb. 24 that they were not informed of the details of the plan. Anniston Mayor Jack Draper said that despite meetings with HHS, city and county officials were not informed of what would be expected of them, first responders, healthcare personnel and community partners.

"We're simply not prepared to help our fellow citizens at this time who have been diagnosed with this disease," Mr. Draper said.

On Feb. 22, HHS sent a news release "notifying the State of Alabama that [the patients] were scheduled to begin transporting to Alabama as early as Wednesday," Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said, according to CNN.

Initially, local city officials considered taking legal action to stop the transfer. But on Feb. 23, HHS released a statement saying the FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston "was one site determined to be suitable and effective [for housing coronavirus patients], but is not needed at this time," according to CNN.

City officials said they have decided not to pursue legal action.

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