The Grand Princess cruise ship is halted along the California coast after a former passenger died from the coronavirus less than two weeks after returning from his trip. According to NPR, the passenger is the state’s first known victim of the virus, one which has now affected 15 states and over 70 countries. Health officials say they now plan to test each passenger for the virus.
“We are going to be flying testing kits to the cruise ship, and we are going to be sending those quickly back to the state,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom in a press conference on Wednesday.
He added that the testing will be handled “within just a few hours.”
The passenger was on the cruise from February 11 through February 21, traveling from San Francisco to Mexico. The passenger, who was elderly and had other health conditions, spent a week at home before being taken by ambulance to a hospital in Placer County on February 27.
The cruise ship traveled to Hawaii after its voyage to Mexico. Upon its return, the ship’s next voyage to Ensanda was canceled, and the vessel was brought to the coast near San Francisco. The Grand Princess is currently carrying 2,500 passengers and nearly 1,000 crew members. However, the cruise line says that only a small portion of the passengers will be tested, while others will be advised to monitor themselves.
“There are fewer than 100 guests and crew identified for testing,” the cruise line company, Princess Cruises, said.
The company added that the passengers who will be tested are ones who were on the ship for both the Mexico and Hawaii cruises, and are people who have shown flu-like symptoms or are “guests currently under care for respiratory illness.”
According to CNN, many passengers who were on the San Francisco-Mexico voyage have been confined to their rooms until they have been cleared. One passenger, Cheri Breault Harris, has spoken out about the situation.
“We are not happy about being confined… Luckily, my husband and I like each other,” Harris said.
She also said that people are attempting to be as calm as can be “under the circumstances.”
To assist with the testing aboard the ship, the United States Coast Guard will send a helicopter to deliver tests and get samples Thursday morning. The team will collect the samples and fly them to a lab in Richmond for analysis.
In his press conference on Wednesday, Newsom declared a state of emergency to address growing concerns over COVID-19.
When asked about the rise of coronavirus cases in the United States, President Donald Trump said that, from a certain standpoint, concern over the virus has likely had a “positive impact” as people are staying in the U.S., shopping and staying in hotels. He also added that the reported issues with testing are purportedly due to policies enacted by the Obama administration.