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Marine bases in San Diego work to limit spread of coronavirus

San Diego bases encourage social distancing, limit base activities in response to the virus. MCAS Miramar is enacting best-practices from quarantine to curb spread.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego-area Marine bases increased their Health Protection Condition to help curb the spread of coronavirus.

The new rules change how people get onto base and limit activities. Those who can work from home were told to telework.

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar set aside a barrack for Marines in need of isolation or quarantine.

“Those folks have food brought to them, their laundry is taken care of - we plan for all of their living essentials along the way,” said Capt. Matthew Gregory. “We’re taking those steps here on the base to make sure anyone who contracts it gets isolated appropriately.”

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The barracks are separate from the area currently being used by passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship who were ordered to spend 14 days in quarantine after 19 crew members and two passengers tested positive for coronavirus.

Miramar also hosted Americans returning from Wuhan, China, where the new strain of coronavirus started. The base worked closely with staff from the Centers for Disease Control and Health and Human Services and are using what they learned to help Marines.

“Medically, we’re following the same procedures that everyone else is following outside the gate. We’re just trying to replicate some of the things that the CDC did that were successful with the Wuhan quarantine and the Grand Princess quarantine and putting them on a smaller scale with what we’re doing,” said Gregory.

Marines at Camp Pendleton installed several tents that can be used for quarantined Marines. At least one barrack was also set aside.

Non-essential businesses on base were closed and restaurants are providing take-out service only.

“Marines love their gym and fitness, but we’ve had to curtail the [gym] hours for multiple cleaning sessions throughout the day,” Gregory said.

Local bases are working to encourage social distancing and limiting large gatherings.

“Things like formations, large group settings, meetings those kinds of things may be curtailed in the future, but the commanding officer set a soft cap of 75 people right now,” said Gregory. “Any formation or event of more than 75 people are being discouraged.”