By TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News
Alabama’s state and federal political leaders confirmed Sunday that a Department of Homeland Security facility in Anniston will not be used to quarantine passengers from a cruise ship known to have been home to the spread of COVID-19, better known as the Coronavirus.
News broke over the weekend that the Federal Emergency Management Agency Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston would be considered to house passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Some Americans with the virus who were on the cruise ship were evacuated to the U.S. from Japan, the Associated Press reported.
However, by Sunday afternoon, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, Gov. Kay Ivey, and Congressman Mike Rogers each posted on Twitter that they had spoken to President Donald Trump and he had assured them no Coronavirus patients would be brought to Alabama.
“I just got off the phone with the President. He told me that his administration will not be sending any victims of the Coronavirus from the Diamond Princess cruise ship to Anniston, Alabama,” Shelby said via Twitter.
I just got off the phone with the President. He told me that his administration will not be sending any victims of the Coronavirus from the Diamond Princess cruise ship to Anniston, Alabama. Thank you, @POTUS, for working with us to ensure the safety of all Alabamians.
— Richard Shelby (@SenShelby) February 23, 2020
Rogers, who represents the Anniston area in Congress, also said he had spoken to the president and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar
In the past 24 hours, I have spoken to @realdonaldtrump twice and just spoke with Secretary Azar. The plan to house the Americans exposed to Coronavirus at the CDP in Anniston has thankfully been CANCELLED.
— Mike Rogers (@RepMikeRogersAL) February 23, 2020
Earlier in the day Sunday, Ivey’s office clarified early reports that the passengers were definitely coming to Anniston, saying the facility was only meant as a back up if other facilities became filled. By Sunday afternoon, Ivey had also spoken to President Trump. She said Alabamians “want to help our fellow Americans, but this wasn’t fully vetted.”
.@realDonaldTrump called to assure me that this plan will not move forward. I thanked him for his support of AL! We always want to help our fellow Americans, but this wasn’t fully vetted. Thank you @SenShelby @RepMikeRogersAL for advocating on our behalf! #alpolitics #teamwork https://t.co/fzpaBmJOtW
— Governor Kay Ivey (@GovernorKayIvey) February 23, 2020
The vast majority of virus cases are in China. COVID-19 has infected tens of thousands of people and caused more than 2,000 deaths in that country. Cases have also been reported in more than a dozen other nations, the AP reported.