The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was vehemently against evacuating 14 American cruise passengers docked in Japan on Monday after they tested positive with the deadly coronavirus, but that didn’t stop the State Department from bringing them home. According to The Washington Post, over a dozen busses carrying more than 300 American evacuees—including the 14 sick travelers—from the Diamond Princess cruise ship waited at the tarmac of Tokyo’s Haneda Airport while officials in Washington debated whether or not to allow the infected to return. The CDC’s principal deputy director, Anne Schuchat, was reportedly concerned about infection control. Department of Health and Human Services official Robert Kadlec pushed back, reportedly claiming officials equipped the two planes to handle sick evacuees: Infectious disease doctors would be onboard and 18 seats were behind 10-foot-high plastic on four sides for anyone who showed symptoms.
Upon hearing of the State Department’s decision, the CDC reportedly demanded the agency be left out of the press release announcing that over a dozen infected individuals would be landing on U.S. soil. The department released the statement about the sick evacuees an hour before they landed, and the CDC was not mentioned. Schuchat has not spoken publicly about the matter. This comes after the Diamond Princess cruise ship was vacated on Wednesday, but about 40 Americans from the ship remained hospitalized with the virus.