The Post reported how furious President Trump was with this decision. His anger stemmed from the fact that he wasn't consulted about such an important decision first.
The spread of the coronavirus in the United States was certainly not helped by the fact that an obscure government bureaucrat who heads an obscure wing of the State Department helped make the decision — without informing President Trump, who was against it — to fly back infected American passengers from the Diamond Princess.
As Daniel Greenfield delineates, an arm of the State Department called the Bureau of Medical Services has within it a wing called Operational Medicine. Dr. William Walters is the U.S. Department of State’s Managing Director for Operational Medicine. On February 17 he acknowledged:
So the Directorate of Operational Medicine within the Bureau of Medical Services is responsible for the aviation missions to repatriate these individuals. We work very closely with ASPR. This is our sixth flight over the past several days. We managed the flights out of Wuhan, China, and, obviously, this one. The planning was ongoing for several days. And once the National Security Council had made the decision to move forward, we certainly executed with our partners.
… Passengers were deplaned in those two locations, and then a select number of high-risk patients were transported onward from both locations, using those same aircraft to Omaha, Nebraska, for care at the University of Nebraska. The aircraft are currently on their way back to Atlanta for decontamination, and the aircraft will be placed back in service for the vendor.