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LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 (coronavirus)

Graduation Day’: First Group Of Coronavirus Evacuees Released From Quarantine

Americans evacuees from Wuhan, China on the bus to San Diego International Ai...

Credit: Yu Lin

Above: Americans evacuees from Wuhan, China on the bus to San Diego International Airport on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, after being released from a federally mandated quarantine.

Masks were thrown into the air in celebration.

It was “graduation day" Tuesday for 166 people at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar as their quarantine ended.

“Lots of people asked me how I feel. I only can recognize my feeling now. It is like graduation,” Yu Lin said on Twitter. “Bittersweet, happy, nervous, great, leaving friends, leaving people who cared [for] us, maybe a little tears … just no hugs."

Lin was among the first 167 people evacuated to MCAS Miramar two weeks ago from Wuhan, China, where the COVID-19 outbreak started. All but one of them was told they could go home Tuesday.

Lin was one of the last group to board the four buses at Miramar that took evacuees to San Diego International Airport for their flights home.

“Today marks an end to a long, stressful journey for these 166 passengers,” said Dr. Erin Staples, the field leader for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) at MCAS Miramar. "The community has been very supportive of this process and the gratitude expressed by the evacuee community has been remarkable.”

RELATED: What Life Is Like Inside Miramar’s Coronavirus Quarantine

Reported by Matt Hoffman

One person from the first group — a woman — tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. She is still being treated at UC San Diego Health. Everyone who was medically cleared was allowed to leave.

Many were like Lance Peterson and his wife — glad to be able to go home.

“We’re just trying to go back home,” Lance Peterson told KPBS at Lindbergh Field. “(We’re) very relieved. It’s been a long process.”

For some, the federally mandated 14-day quarantine period was not all that bad.

“Other than boring, there’s nothing I can complain about,” said Julia Zhu, who was heading home to San Jose.

Cary Munger said he had a lot of freedom on base in the quarantined area.

“We get to walk outside, walk inside wearing masks,” he said. “A lot of people not wearing masks.”

Both said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were very accommodating and arranged everything. Peterson, however, is worried about how people would treat his Chinese wife back home in Nebraska. The CDC said the people released from quarantine “pose no health risk” to the community.

“We’re healthy. That’s the important thing,” Munger said. “I don’t think anyone from our neighborhood or work [would care]. I think they’re just happy to have us back.”

Another 60 or so people from the second evacuation flight at Miramar are expected to be released from quarantine Thursday.

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

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