The Chicago-area’s Great Lakes Training Center Navy Base could house travelers who may have been exposed to coronavirus and require quarantine, officials said.
The Department of Health and Human Services requested that military installations near 11 major airports in the U.S. be identified as backups for quarantined passengers should HHS facilities fill up.
The Great Lakes station confirmed it would be used to assist with such passengers at O’Hare Airport, if needed.
According to a spokesperson, one of the center’s barracks buildings has been set aside for use by the HHS Department, but it has not yet been used.
The building has 20 rooms and was recently renovated. Any future improvements would need to be done by HHS, however, the spokesperson said.
Pentagon Public Affairs noted that no DePartment of Defense personnel would have contact with the passengers and HHS would be “responsible for all care, transportation and security of the evacuees.” Officials said each location would be limited to providing housing for up to 20 people.
Should anyone become ill during the quarantine process, they would be taken to an area medical center, according to the Pentagon.
Chicago has already reported two confirmed cases of the coronavirus in recent weeks. The first case was found in a woman who had traveled to Wuhan, china – the epicenter of the outbreak – and began showing symptoms after her return to the U.S.
The second person diagnosed was that woman’s husband, marking the first case of person-to-person transmission in the U.S.
The couple was hospitalized following the diagnosis but health officials said on Friday that they were discharged and placed under home isolation.
“With it being an uncomfortable situation, the care and the services we’ve received have been great," the couple said in a joint statement released by AMITA Health. "Everyone’s been very kind and very respectful. This has been the best healthcare experience we’ve ever had, but we’re definitely looking forward to getting home and getting life back to normal."
The couple requested privacy in their transition to home isolation, health officials said.
The virus has already killed more than 636 people in China, sparking travel warnings and airport screenings around the world.