A group of military service members coming home from recent missions in Liberia will spend the next few weeks in a containment area at Joint Base Lewis-McChord while the Army monitors their health for signs of Ebola infection, the Army announced Monday.
The group includes 15 military service members and one Defense Department civilian who recently worked to build facilities in Liberia that will support the Pentagon’s effort to tamp down the spread of the fatal disease. They were expected to arrive Tuesday at McChord Airfield.
The members of the group have not been exposed to Ebola-infected patients, I Corps Maj. Mary Ricks said.
“The risk of them being exposed (to the disease) is very minimal,” Ricks said.
The Pentagon earlier this month named JBLM as one of five domestic military bases that will be used to temporarily house troops coming out of missions in West Africa.
The Defense Department wants to keep them quarantined from civilians for the duration of the Ebola disease’s 21-day incubation period. The troops arriving at JBLM on Tuesday have spent some time in Germany since leaving Liberia and are not expected to be at JBLM for the full 21 days.
About 2,600 military service members are stationed in West Africa, building and operating 17 Ebola-treatment facilities.
The disease has infected about 15,300 people and killed 5,459, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection.
The group of military service members arriving at JBLM contains troops who are not stationed at the South Sound base. They are mostly soldiers and airmen from different military bases around the country.
The base is preparing a Thanksgiving dinner for the quarantined troops. They’ll be served a holiday meal in a dining area within the containment zone, Ricks said.
JBLM could house as many as 1,000 quarantined military service members in barracks that were used until recently for summertime ROTC exercises.
The barracks have been spruced up with new gym equipment and Wi-Fi connections.
“All the amenities they’d have at another installation, they’ll have there,” Ricks said.