OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – Questions mounted Saturday over the status of the more than 1,000 crewmembers stranded on the coronavirus-stricken Grand Princess.
All that is known for sure is that the cruise ship is supposed to leave the Port of Oakland by the end of Sunday. Its crew is still on board.
“You are building a petri dish by quarantining the crew on the ship,” says Jack Heyman, retired from the International Transport Workers’ Federation. “This is more than a problem, this is a crisis.”
It was a host of Bay Area maritime union groups Saturday morning, speaking on behalf of those no one has seen or heard from, the estimated 1,100 crew members who remain aboard the virus-stricken Grand Princess.
“Six hundred Filipinos,” says Robert Irminger of the Inland Boatman’s Union. “There are also Koreans, Sri Lankans, Italians on that vessel.”
The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services says the crew members who tested positive have been removed, but less is known about the remaining crew members, now stuck on the ship.
“The rest of the crew needs to be tested, they need to be given medical treatment now,” Heyman says.
“And to be able to repatriate them to their home countries,” adds Irminger.
Another complaint raised by longshoremen Saturday was ongoing working conditions under the threat of coronavirus. They say workers should be demanding greater safety precautions at all ports on the West Coast.
“Go take your equipment and get it cleaned before you start work,” one ILWU union representative said. “You don’t start your shift, you don’t do nothing, until you get your truck cleaned, if that’s how they’re going to play this game. That’s going to stop work product, they’re going to be upset at that, but that’s what we have to do if they don’t want to do it.”
KPIX reached out to Cal OES, the agency managing the Grand Princess situation, but those calls were not returned Saturday. However, a source close to the governor’s office says that Gavin Newsom wants this ship out of Oakland by the end of Sunday, even if it means anchoring in the middle of San Francisco Bay until the repatriation of crew members can be resolved.