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First group of cruise ship passengers arrive at MCAS Miramar for 2-week coronavirus quarantine

A second, larger group is expected sometime Wednesday. It's unclear exactly how many people from the ship will be held at Miramar.

SAN DIEGO — The first of two groups of passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship arrived late Tuesday night at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

The "small group" will begin a two-week quarantine period. 

A second, larger group is expected sometime Wednesday. It's unclear exactly how many people from the ship -- on which at least 21 people tested positive for coronavirus -- will be held at Miramar.

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The passengers are a portion of more than 1,000 California residents who were aboard the cruise ship docked in Oakland. It was not immediately known exactly how many passengers from the cruise ship will be temporarily housed at Miramar. 

The ship had been offshore pending test results that showed at least 21 of the 3,500 people aboard had tested positive for the illness. The Grand Princess pulled into the Port of Oakland on Monday.  

A letter was sent to sailors, Marines and families at MCAS Miramar on Tuesday about the federal quarantine and how they will handle the passengers. 

Cruise ship passengers who are residents of other states are expected to be taken to Joint Base San Antonio Lackland in Texas or Dobbins Air Force Base in Georgia.

This will be second time Miramar has been used as a quarantine facility due to the coronavirus. More than 200 people who were evacuated from Wuhan, China -- the epicenter of the outbreak -- were housed at the facility last month. Two of those people eventually tested positive for the virus, but they were hospitalized and have since recovered and were released.

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California Governor Gavin Newsom during a media briefing Tuesday mentioned Miramar as the next site that will process cruise ship passengers.

Governor Newsom noted that testing is at the top of mind in California. He said 18 state labs and two hospitals are currently processing coronavirus test kits with plans to expand in both sectors. Quest Labs in San Juan Capistrano is a commercial partner and is processing test kits. They processed roughly 100 tests on Monday, according to Newsom. Quest will open two other locations to commercial testing in Sacramento and West Hills in the coming weeks, approximately around March 24, according to the governor. Those facilities will have the ability to process 5,000-5,500 kits when they are up and running.  

In addition, Newsom said authorities have been working to secure hotel and motel rooms across the state for individuals from The Grand Princess who need to be quarantined with no community contact. This will include people who were taken to a hospital from the ship but later released. They will not be joining the other passengers at military bases.  

Newsom clarified that although testing kits may be available, they also require reagents and personnel to process. He said as of Tuesday morning, 1,075 people had been tested across California.  

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RELATED: Health officials give update on first presumptive coronavirus case in San Diego

On Monday, San Diego County health officials confirmed the county's first presumptive positive case of coronavirus in a local resident, who is being treated at Scripps Green Hospital.

The case is considered a presumptive positive until test results are confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Scripps has taken precautionary measures and sent any staff who may have been exposed to the illness to home quarantine with hospital support.

"Scripps Green Hospital and the adjacent Scripps Clinic Torrey Pines are safe for patient care and all appointments and procedures are continuing as usual at both facilities," according to a hospital statement.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's health officer, said the patient is a woman in her 50s, and the infection is related to "overseas travel." County officials did not specify what country the patient had visited, but the location did not subject her to automatic 14-day quarantine when she returned -- an indication she did not travel to high-danger countries such as China or Italy.

Wooten said the patient is hospitalized and "doing well." She said health officials are continuing to investigate to determine who may have come into contact with the woman.

Dr. Eric McDonald of the county's Epidemiology Immunization Branch said there is a "household contact," and that person is under a self- quarantine, and some health care workers may have been exposed. McDonald said the patient became sick and was hospitalized, and eventually met the criteria to be tested for coronavirus, leading to the positive result.

He said there is not believed to have been any contact with the "general public."

Although the patient is considered the county's first coronavirus case, the illness has had a presence in the San Diego area. Last week, authorities confirmed that a person who works at an AT&T retail store in Chula Vista had tested positive for the illness, prompting the temporary closure of some AT&T stores in the area. That patient was not considered a San Diego County case because the person actually lives in Orange County.

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