Nearly 1,000 passengers who are California residents aboard a cruise ship hit with an outbreak of the new coronavirus will complete mandatory quarantine at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar and Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said.
The cruise ship, which was idling 10 to 12 miles off shore for several days, was headed to the Port of Oakland Monday morning.
Passengers erupted in cheers as the large vessel, passed under San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, signaling they were approaching land, passenger Cheri Stinson told NBC 7.
“Everybody came out (to the ship's decks) when we could see the Golden Gate; we knew we were getting close,” the resident of San Diego's Clairemont neighborhood said.
A 10-acre site at the Port of Oakland was being prepared and secured for the anticipated arrival of the quarantined Grand Princess cruise ship and evacuations of passengers will take two to three days, Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a news conference Sunday with city and state officials.
"It was quite a thrill because, you know, we’ve been sitting out circling in the ocean for days," Stinson said. "The cheer went up all over. Everybody’s yelling 'We love you, Oakland,’ ‘We thank you, Oakland’ because they were willing to take the ship and let us dock here."
Stinson said that is was not clear how long she and her relatives would need to remain on board. None were not showing symptoms of cough or fever -- indications of possible coronavirus infection.
At least 21 of the people on board the Grand Princess cruise ship have tested positive for COVID-19. Nineteen of the 21 patients who tested positive are crew members, Governor Gavin Newsom said Sunday.
The ship is carrying more than 3,500 people from 54 countries, including crew members.
The ship has 962 passengers who are California residents. They will complete mandatory 14-day quarantines at Travis Air Force Base, about 50 miles northeast of Oakland, and MCAS Miramar in San Diego, officials said.
It was likely passengers from Northern California would be housed at Travis AFB while passengers from Southern California would be taken to MCAS Miramar, ship officials told Stinson.
“We’ll be thankful to set foot on solid ground and from there we just don’t know,” Stinson said.
Other U.S. citizens aboard the ship will be taken to Joint Base San Antonio Lackland in Texas or Dobbins Air Force Base in Georgia.
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"We are still working out the enormity, the complexity of making sure we prepare the site and moreover prepare for quick turnaround and quick boarding of individuals to respective locations," Newsom said.
After mobile medical teams arrive on the ship Sunday, they will asses passengers on board and determine who needs medical attention. Those patients will receive local medical care in Oakland while everyone else will be sent to their respective quarantine locations, said Navy Captain John Redd, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.
The crew members who tested positive will be quarantined on the ship, Newsom said.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the following statement Sunday afternoon:
"Passengers will be transferred to federal military installations for medical screening, COVID-19 testing, and a 14-day quarantine. Nearly 1,000 passengers who are California residents will complete the mandatory quarantine at Travis Air Force Base and Miramar Naval Air Station, and residents of other states will complete the mandatory quarantine at Joint Base San Antonio Lackland in Texas or Dobbins Air Force Base in Georgia. Throughout the quarantine, passengers will be monitored for symptoms of COVID-19. The Department of State is working closely with the home countries of several hundred passengers to arrange for repatriation to their countries."
MCAS Miramar sent NBC 7 the following statement:
"The Department of Defense is working closely with Health and Human Services to determine the potential installations and lodging requirements for quarantine operations for the passengers currently aboard the Grand Princess. As with previous efforts, the DoD would provide housing and HHS would be responsible for the aspects of the quarantine. Additional information will be provided as soon as it is available."
The Grand Princess had been forbidden to dock in San Francisco amid evidence that the vessel was the breeding ground for a cluster of nearly 20 cases that resulted in at least one death after a previous voyage.