Four Hawaii residents were among the 3,500 people aboard the Grand Princess that docked Monday at the Port of Oakland, Calif., but state health officials did not have details on them or where they will be quarantined.
There have been 21 confirmed cases of COVID-19 — two passengers and 19 crew members — aboard the Grand Princess, which made port calls to Nawiliwili Harbor, Kauai, on Feb. 26, Honolulu Harbor on Feb. 27, Lahaina on Feb. 28 and Hilo on Feb. 29.
The cruise ship had been forced to remain off the coast of California for days because of the number of coronavirus cases. Half the passengers were finally able to disembark and were transported to various military bases to be quarantined for 14 days, including Travis Air Force Base in California. Roughly 1,100 crew members will be quarantined and treated aboard the ship.
Nearly 240 Canadians left the ship. Canada and the United Kingdom were sending chartered flights to bring their citizens home.
Department of Health spokeswoman Janice Okubo said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is overseeing that activity, and the state did not have any details on the Hawaii residents. Once they return, the CDC will notify Health Department officials that they they have completed quarantine or need further monitoring.
A Hawaii man who fell ill March 1 after returning from a previous cruise on the very same ship, the Grand Princess, tested positive March 6, becoming the state’s first of two presumptive cases. He remains isolated at home and is monitored daily by the Health Department.
He was on a Feb. 11-21 cruise from San Francisco to Mexico. He flew home from Mexico and developed symptoms nine days after he left the ship.
The second presumptive positive case is a man in his 90s. He was in critical condition Sunday, unable to communicate, after returning sick from Washington state, Hawaii health officials said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said pointedly Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” “If you’re a person with an underlying condition and you are particularly an elderly person with an underlying condition, you need to think twice about getting on a plane, on a long trip — and not only think twice. Just don’t get on a cruise ship.”
The Diamond Princess was quarantined for two weeks in Yokohama, Japan, in February because of the virus, infecting 700 of the 3,700 on board, “with the vessel becoming a floating germ factory,” The Associated Press reported.
A Manoa couple in their 70s, who have enjoyed 15 cruises since 2006 when they took the Grand Princess on a Mediterranean cruise, canceled an April cruise a few weeks ago from Australia to Hawaii.
The couple most recently sailed on the Diamond Princess in February 2019.
“We got kind of scared,” said Shar C., who asked that her last name not be used due to privacy concerns. They canceled shortly after hearing about the Diamond Princess and lost about $1,100 in cancellation fees. They re-booked flights but canceled them, too.
“It’s costing us money, but the peace of mind we’re getting is worth it,” she said.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green said Monday at a news conference, “My personal recommendation has been that cruise ships do a 60-day pause.”
While cruise ships are enhancing their capacity to screen and check for people at risk, it is too difficult because people are asymptomatic before they develop the disease, he said.
“I think the cruise ships are running a terrible risk of damaging communities where they’ve landed and their own business capacity going forward,” said Green, adding cruise ships should not allow anyone to disembark if they have even the slightest symptoms.
He urged anyone who is sick not to travel anywhere or participate in big projects or events.
Green will meet Wednesday with members of the cruise ship industry.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.