OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Word came down late Thursday evening, the week-long ordeal for Darla Curtis and the last remaining American passengers aboard the coronavirus-stricken Grand Princess had come to an end. The final bus had been loaded at the Oakland dockside and those passengers were beginning the next phase of their return to a normal life.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s office emailed KPIX 5 — “Yes, the state informed us the last passenger disembarked around 8 p.m.” By Friday evening there were just 14 foreign travelers aboard the boat, awaiting passage to their native countries.
“Plans for the crew are still be finalized,” Princess Cruise officials said on a statement.
The Americans headed to one of four military bases across the United State for a secure, federally mandated 14-day period of quarantine.
Curtis had reached out to KPIX.com on Thursday, pleading for someone, anyone, to press the case of the 200 or so passengers who were still held in their staterooms to finally be allowed to leave the ship, which has been moored in Oakland since Monday.
“We do get an announcement from the captain three times a day,” she said in a phone. “Yesterday they said it was likely we get off the ship. Today they said it was likely we get off the ship.”
COMPLETE COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK
But still she remained in her stateroom, with her one allowed carry-on packed and ready to go.
“No one has been documented the days we’ve spent quarantined in our room and then we’re going to be quarantined another 14 days,” she said the frustration evident in her voice. “No one’s talked to us about our health, taken our temperature or given us a test.”
She said while the crew had been attentive, they also were wearing down, losing patience with the process.
“I was doing ok with the situation and dealing with it the best I could until the crew started being mean,” she said.
Meanwhile, several of her fellow passengers who had already departed the ship found themselves in the center of a dispute in the city of San Carlos. Seven passengers who had tested positive for the coronavirus, but did not require hospitalization were being housed in a hotel and more were on the way.
On Thursday night, city leaders said that those passengers had been taken to the Fairfield Inn and Suites on Skyway Road and that more were expected throughout the night. The passengers were taken by ambulance where they will stay until they test negative for the virus.
The 120-room hotel is enclosed by a fence perimeter and is guarded by U.S. Marshals, with the help of California Highway Patrol officers.
The passengers, officials said, are not allowed to be taken to military bases because the Department of Defense doesn’t allow those who are ill on its properties.
Meanwhile, city leaders used a special meeting where they voted for a state of an emergency to last as long as the governor’s order, to address concerns from the public.
“Those folks are not going to be in downtown San Carlos on Laurel Street having dinner,” said San Carlos city manager Jeff Maltbie. “They are stuck in that hotel until they pass the testing procedures.”
The announcement from government officials the day prior that passengers would be taken to the small town of San Carlos sparked concerns and questions from residents.
One resident who posted on Nextdoor.com wrote,”If they really assured us that these people will not be leaving and walking around town people would feel better.” Another resident wrote,”How are they really going to enforce the quarantine orders?”
The ship, with its crew of 1,100 including at least 19 suffering from the coronavirus, has delayed its departure from the Bay Area until at least Sunday.
Initially, officials said it would immediately depart to an undisclosed destination once the final passengers left. But on Thursday, Schaaf sent an email saying the ship would not be leaving until Sunday.
“The duration has changed but the mission is the same – to ensure the safety of Oakland residents and reunite stranded loved ones with their families,” Schaaf said in a press release. “I support extending the stay of the Grand Princess because the operation has proven to be safe, meticulous, and at no risk to our residents.”
“We will support the effort to repatriate as many crew members as possible – they are mostly low-income, low-wage, foreign nationals, and true to our Oakland values we will extend the same courtesy and care to crew as passengers.”