JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. — A group of military service members returning to Joint Base Lewis-McChord from Africa will spend Thanksgiving in isolation while the Army monitors their health for signs of Ebola.
The group arriving Tuesday evening includes 15 service members and one Defense Department civilian who built facilities in Liberia to fight the fatal disease, the Army said.
They were not exposed to Ebola-infected patients and the risk that they picked up the fatal disease is very minimal, said I Corps Maj. Mary Ricks. Because they have no symptoms, the isolation is called controlled monitoring rather than quarantine, Ricks said Tuesday.
They'll have their temperature taken twice a day during their stay, which won't be a full 21 days because they've already spent some time in Germany.
Lewis-McChord is not their home base. They come from all over the country and one is stationed overseas, Ricks said.
The base near Tacoma is one of five around the country set up for Ebola monitoring. The first troops returning from the Ebola mission in Africa went to Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia earlier this month, Ricks said.
This is the first group for Lewis-McChord, which has room for two groups of 50 for a total of 100. That could go up to 1,000 if necessary, Ricks said.
The isolation area has computers and exercise equipment. Also a dining facility will make Thanksgiving dinner for the group, she said.
"We're trying to make this experience as much like home as we can, realizing they won't be home for Thanksgiving," Ricks said.
They shouldn't miss another holiday, she said. "They'll be home for Christmas."