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Personnel At Riverside Military Base Being Harassed By Community Members Over Coronavirus Fears

RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) – Riverside County health officials warned community members concerned about the novel coronavirus to stop harassing military personnel of March Air Reserve Base -- where a quarantine is set to expire Tuesday for nearly 200 American evacuees who were flown in from the Chinese province where the coronavirus is believed to have been started.

March Air Reserve Base
March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County. February 2020. (CBS2)

In an open letter Monday, Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser wrote that "a few base workers have even been accosted in uniform" by community members who are concerned about the quarantine.

Kaiser called their concerns "unreasonable," adding that some community members "have taken them (their concerns) out on the families and households of people working at March Air Reserve Base."

On Jan. 29, a U.S. State Department-chartered airplane carrying 195 Americans arrived at the March Air Reserve Base from Wuhan, China, the region where this new strain of coronavirus is believed to have started. They constituted the first group of Americans evacuated from the region when the outbreak began.

"There have been comments made that have been hurtful — both in person and on social media — that are often based on incorrect or incomplete information," Kaiser wrote.

RELATED: Child Hospitalized From March ARB Tests Negative For Coronavirus, More Evacuees Arrive In California

All the passengers are either State Department employees or their family members. They are under quarantine at the base through Tuesday, Feb. 11, under orders from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. None of them have tested positive for coronavirus.

"Please understand that people on and off the base are not at increased risk for exposure to the new virus, and we don't restrict people who don't actually pose any risk," Kaiser wrote. "They have had no contact with the evacuees, whose area is fully separated from base personnel."

At last report, there were six confirmed cases of coronavirus in California. Of those, four are in Northern California and two in Southern California. They include one person in Los Angeles County, one in Orange County, two in Santa Clara County and two in San Benito County, according to the state Department of Public Health.

For more information on the coronavirus, click here.

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