SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — More than 2,000 passengers remain confined to their rooms Friday aboard the Grand Princess, awaiting word from California health officials if 45 passengers and crew members suffering from flu-like symptoms have tested positive for the coronavirus. What’s at stake is whether they will be able to end their ill-fated cruise within hours or continue to drift off the California coast.
Meanwhile, a medical drama continued to unfold surrounding the luxury liner’s previous cruise — a Feb. 11-21 roundtrip voyage from San Francisco to Mexico.READ MORE: 1 Dead, 2 Injured In Separate Falls During Phish Concert At Chase Center
Santa Clara County health officials expected to get word Friday on whether a 72-year-old man, who relatives say was on that previous cruise, has become the second former passenger to die as of result of contracting the coronavirus. If the death is confirmed to be related to the disease, the man would be the second California resident to die of the illness.
Sunnyvale DPS Chief Phan Ngo said the officers responded to a call regarding an unconscious man who had stopped breathing. The officers performed CPR, but did not perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the patient contrary to some reports.
“While obtaining the patient’s medical history, a family member advised us that the patient had recently been on a cruise where to passengers were suspected of having COVID-19,” said Ngo. “Although it has not yet been determined by Santa Clara County Public Health whether or not the patient had COVID-19, we are taking every step possible to ensure the safety and well being of the officers on the call, the members of our department and the Sunnyvale community.”
A 71-year-old adult male Rocklin resident died earlier this week. Two other former passengers were also being treated in Sonoma County hospitals. Two new cases related to cruise have been identified in Contra Costa County, officials said Friday, and were being quarantined at home. Investigators from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention were trying to track down hundreds of others.
Concern was so high that a mere visit by three former passengers to a San Bruno senior center for a lunch program was enough for local officials to temporarily shut it down on Thursday.
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The Grand Princess has been in a holding pattern according to Cruise Tracker, doing loops miles out into the Pacific Ocean outside the famed Golden Gate Bridge. The ship was carrying 2,422 passengers and 1,111 crew members from more than for dozen nations.
Passengers were told after lunch service on Thursday to remain confined to their rooms until the ship docks. Food would be delivered by room service.
But where the Grand Princess will dock remained very much a question early Thursday. Governor Gavin Newsom has denied the boat entry into any California port until test results of blood samples taken from 45 passengers and crew members on the ship Thursday and airlifted to a state lab in Richmond come back this morning.
Watch Dramatic Video Of The High Seas Delivery Of The Testing Kits To The Grand Princess
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Several final destinations, including San Francisco, were under consideration. Officials do not want a repeat of what happened on the the Diamond Princess in Japan where the illness spread to 704 people with four of them dying while it was moored at a pier in quarantine.
Mary Ellen Carroll, the San Francisco Director of the Department of Emergency Management, at a Thursday morning news conference said 35 of those aboard had shown flu-like symptoms during the 15-day cruise.
“Many of those people have recovered and are no longer showing flu-like symptoms,” she said. “Once we have results from the (coronavirus) tests (that will be run Thursday), the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the state will determine the most appropriate location for the ship to berth. That location needs to provide for the safety of the surrounding community as well as the passengers.”
“The CDC and the state are considering a number of locations including San Francisco,” she added.
Aboard the ship, fears continued to mount among the passengers whose two-week cruise from San Francisco to Hawaii was coming to a nightmarish end. Among those passengers was Laura Dunn, who took to social media expressing fear and anxiety.
“I am trying to remain upbeat and positive about this sailing we are on but here are my honest thoughts. Just my thoughts and I am not a doctor,” she tweeted. “We have been inside this ship since leaving Hawaii. The decks have been closed the whole time per dangerous storm conditions. Other than staying in our cabins the entire time, we have basically been elbow to elbow with the entire population of this ship.”
“There are a certain amount of folks who were on the previous sailing who are now being checked. But we all have been breathing the same inside air and in elevators, restaurants etc with any one of these who were previously exposed. It bothers me going home to my town, to my grand babies and family having been exposed to this.. Just the things that kept me up last night.”
Chris Grady boarded the Grand Princess on February 21st in San Francisco. He told KPIX 5 he knew something was up after the cruise left the big island of Hawaii.
“There’s a channel on the TV that shows where the ship is going and I noticed it. We were going straight toward Mexico and then, all of a sudden, just kind of turned and headed toward San Francisco for a few hours. So I knew something was kind of up,” Grady explained to KPIX via Facebook Messenger.
Grady said information about what’s going has been hard to come by from Princess Cruises.
“I definitely feel I’ve been kept in the dark a little bit. Because I’ve learned a lot more by going online and reading what’s going on. Here, they’ve been pretty vague. I’m not sure if they’re trying not to scare people,” Grady said.
Meanwhile, anxiety also mounted for passengers from the previous cruise.
Judy Cadiz of Lodi, said she and her husband became ill afterward but had not given it much thought until learning a fellow traveler had died of the virus. Now, they cannot get a straight answer about how to get tested, she said.
With Mark Cadiz, 65, running a fever, the couple worries not only about themselves, but about the possibility that — if they contracted the infection — they could have passed it on to others.MORE NEWS: Santa Rosa Man Sentenced To 16 Years In Prison After 65 Pounds Of Meth Found At His Home
“They’re telling us to stay home, but nobody told me until yesterday to stay home. We were in Sacramento, we were in Martinez, we were in Oakland. We took a train home from the cruise,” Judy Cadiz said Thursday. “I really hope that we’re negative so nobody got infected.”