March 8 (UPI) — A cruise ship where at least 21 people have tested positive for COVID-19 will dock in the United States on Monday, cruise line officials said Sunday.
The Grand Princess cruise ship will dock in Oakland, cruise line Princess Cruises announced after the ship has been waiting off the coast of San Francisco awaiting clearance to return to land amid the outbreak of coronavirus.
Guests who require medical treatment and hospitalization will be disembarked first, followed by guests that are California residents who will undergo a health screening before being sent to a federal facility in the state for testing and isolation.
Guests from outside California will be transported to facilities in other states and the crew will be quarantined and treated aboard the ship.
Another Princess cruise ship, the Regal Princess, was held up off the southeast coast of Florida on Sunday as it awaits tests for coronavirus from two crew members who were transferred from the Grand Princess. The crew members have not exhibited symptoms of the virus, Princess said.
The Coast Guard delivered testing kits to the ship from a small boat Sunday morning. The cruise line canceled the next cruise from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.
Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, wrote on Twitter that the Trump administration has decided to quarantine some of the passengers from the Grand Princess at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio where 230 people have already been quarantined while calling for more tests in the state.
“Many of us have expressed to the Trump administration serious concerns with how the administration has handled the quarantine and treatment of infected patients,” Castro wrote. “For example, we still do not have the testing kits we need to truly determine community spread.”
The United States has 515 cases of coronavirus and 21 deaths, according to figures from Johns Hopkins. Sixteen of the deaths are in Washington state, with all but one in King County, two in Florida and one in California. The first death in the United States was confirmed eight days ago — in Washington.
The cases includs 46 repatriated people from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan and two from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak.
Washington State has 110 cases and New York has the second most with 106.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency on Sunday as the state, which borders Washington, identified seven new coronavirus cases bringing its total to 14.
“This news is concerning for all Oregonians, but my resolve and that of my administration to address this public health crisis is unchanged,” said Brown. “This emergency declaration gives the Oregon Health Authority and the Office of Emergency Management all the resources at the state’s disposal to stem the spread of this disease. We will do everything it takes, within our power and in coordination with federal and local officials to keep Oregonians safe.”
Virginia health officials announced a second presumptive case of coronavirus in the state, an 80-year-old Fairfax resident who traveled on a similar Nile River cruise linked to three positive tests in Maryland. Presumptive positive cases refer to patients who have tested positive for the virus but have not yet been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams urged elderly Americans to avoid traveling, including on cruise ships.
“We now know more about who is at risk. Average age of death for people from coronavirus is 80,” Adams said on CNN’s State of the Nation. “Average age of people who need medical attention is age 60. We want people who are older, people who have medical conditions, to take steps to protect themselves, including avoiding crowded spaces, including thinking very carefully about whether or not now is the time to get on that cruise ship, whether now is the time to take that long haul flight.”
Vice President Mike Pence, meeting with cruise executive in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, said new screening and quarantine protocols will be put into effect in a few days,
“The American people value our cruise line industry,” Pence, who leads the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said at roundtable discussion with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. “Nevertheless we all recognize the recent challenges posed on the Diamond Princess and the ongoing challenge with the Grand Princess in the spread of the coronavirus.”
Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that the U.S. government could shut down some sections of the country due to outbreaks of COVID-19.
Fauci, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, told Fox News that “anything is possible” in regards to measures widespread lockdowns in areas affected by the coronavirus could take place in the United States.
“I don’t think it would be as draconian as nobody in or nobody out but if we continue to get cases like this particularly at the community level there will be what we call ‘mitigation,’ where we have to essentially do social distancing, keep people out of crowded places, take a look at seriousness, do you really need to travel and I think it’s particularly important among the most vulnerable,” he said.
Fauci’s comments come after Italian Prime Minister signed a decree placing millions of residents of northern Italy into lockdown in response to the virus. Italy’s Civil Protection Department reported the country had 7,375 COVID-19 cases and 366 deaths in the nation before the decree was announced.
The first case was on U.S. soil was Jan. 21.
President Donald Trump on Sunday responded to criticism of his administration’s handling of the outbreak writing on Twitter that the White House has a “perfectly coordinated and fine-tuned” plan for the virus.
“We moved VERY early to close borders to certain areas which was a Godsend. V.P. is doing a great job. The Fake News Media is doing everything possible to make us look bad. Sad!” Trump wrote.