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Nov. 2014 story: Fort Bliss gives ABC-7 tour of quarantine facilities

The U.S. Department of Defense recently announced that Fort Bliss will be one of five stations in the country set up for soldiers returning from West Africa who must remain in quarantine for 21 days.

The Ebola virus can remain active in an infected person’s body without symptoms for 21 days, so it is important to quarantine those who have come in contact with anyone infected with the virus for that length of time.

“Our new mission is to conduct the control monitoring for soldiers that will be redeploying from Liberia,” said Maj. Gen. Stephen Twitty.

The soldiers have been deployed to Liberia to help the country fight an outbreak of Ebola. Liberia is one of three west African countries that are the epicenter of an outbreak, along with Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Twitty tells ABC-7 there is a reason Fort Bliss was picked as a quarantine site.

“We have tremendous capacity here at Fort Bliss. We are known as one of those premiere installations,” said Twitty.

Twitty is referring to Fort Bliss’s recent expansion. The base has enough space to accommodate soldiers returning from West Africa.

“They will come to these facilities and they will live here for 21 days,” said Twitty.

Entire buildings or barracks as the military calls them can be used to isolate up to 400 soldiers.

The barracks are pretty much like college dorms with bedrooms, a living room, even a entertainment center.

Twitty says soldiers won’t be just sitting around all day.

“They will go through a redeployment process that will keep them busy eight hours a day.”

The soldiers will also have a gym only they can use.
“They will (be) conducting physical training,” said Twitty.

Lines even mark the floors to remind soldiers where they can and can’t go.

But most important is the medical facilities. Officials say it is essential to monitor soldiers twice daily and allow for medical screenings at any given time.

Mayor Oscar Leeser was also in attendance support the choice ofselecting Fort Bliss as a quarantine station.

“The most important part is that our military will be safe and their spouses and also our community. That’s the important part,” said Leeser.

Twitty tells ABC-7 he welcomes the mission.

“This is a great opportunity for Fort Bliss again and our soldiers to take care of our own,” said Twitty.

About 150 military staff will be used to run the facilities.

Twitty tells ABC-7 they are expecting soldiers to begin returning from Liberia between the 21st through the 25th of November.

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