Georgia preparing park for isolating patients exposed to coronavirus

‘Isolated section’ of Hard Labor Creek State Park will be used

As the coronavirus continues to spread, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued some guidelines for preparing your household.

State officials are preparing Hard Labor Creek State Park in Morgan County for isolating and monitoring patients who may have been exposed to the disease caused by the coronavirus, Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday.

The government has already installed seven emergency trailers there and other related materials are on the way. Georgia’s Department of Public Safety will provide security once the site is set up.

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Located about 50 miles east of Atlanta, the park features a golf course, lakeside beach and more than 24 miles of trails. Its ominous-sounding name is thought to come from “slaves who tilled summer fields or American Indians who found the creek difficult to cross,” according to the park’s website.

“Officials are utilizing an isolated section of Hard Labor Creek State Park where emergency trailers and operations will be separated from the rest of the property,” Kemp’s office said. “To prevent the disruption of ongoing operations, access to this specific part of Hard Labor Creek State Park is strictly limited to official use.”

State officials did not identify the area of the park where the patients could be located.

Kemp outlined plans for the park a day after announcing 34 Georgians and other passengers from the Grand Princes cruise ship will be transported to Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta for testing and quarantining for possible exposure to COVID-19. They are expected to arrive late Monday or early Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asked the Defense Department to identify lodging near 12 U.S. airports that could serve as “observational support bases” in case Grand Prince passengers need to be quarantined before heading to their final destinations, said First Lt. Alan Abernethy, a spokesman for the 94th Airlift Wing at Dobbins.

Federal health officials will screen the passengers at the port, and only patients showing no symptoms will be transferred to the military bases, he said. Nearly 1,000 California residents who are passengers on the ship will likely undergo a mandatory quarantine at Travis Air Force Base and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, while others will go to Dobbins or Joint Base San Antonio Lackland in Texas.

“The final list of (Defense Department) locations and the numbers of passengers at each base are still being worked,” he said, “and we will update this information as soon as the details are finalized.”

Abernethy referred other questions to HHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Neither agency has responded to multiple requests for comment.

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