SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — As the Grand Princess sat in San Francisco Bay Wednesday, federal officials released some startling data as to the fate of the more than 2,000 passengers who departed the coronavirus-stricken ship when it was unloaded at a secure dock at the Port of Oakland.
According to a statement Wednesday from Health and Human Services officials, two passengers who departed the boat have died as a result of complications from a coronavirus infection.
One of the passengers had been taken directly to a local hospital from the ship, federal officials said, while a second died after being quarantined among the Northern California passengers at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield. Both were men in their 60s.
Few other details about the deaths were released to the paper, but federal authorities did say one died on March 21 and the other passed away on March 23. The hospitals where the deaths occurred were not released.
Many of the Grand Princess passengers refused to be tested while in quarantine at four military bases across the United States. Federal officials told USA Today that of the 1,103 passengers who did undergoing testing, 103 tested positive for the virus.
The luxury cruise liner became a symbol for Bay Northern California residents of the growing coronavirus outbreak in early March. It was the seen of two mass infections on back to back cruises. The first was a roundtrip voyage from San Francisco to Mexico from Feb. 11-21. More than two dozen confirmed coronavirus cases — most in Northern California — can be traced to trip. One former passenger — a 71-year-old Rocklin man — became the first California resident to died from the disease.
As that outbreak grew, the ship was on 15-day round trip from San Francisco to Hawaii. It was immediately recalled, cancelling its final port of call in Mexico.
It arrived in the waters off San Francisco in early March but Gov. Gavin Newsom would not allow it to dock until 45 passengers and crew members who were suffering from flu-like symptoms were tested for the coronavirus. Of those, 19 crew members and two passengers tested positive.
The ship languished off the coast, traveling a looping pattern near the Farallon Islands for several days. Finally, Newsom, federal officials and Oakland city leaders decided to allow it to dock under heavy guard at the Port of Oakland.
Once the Grand Princess docked, passengers were allowed to leave in waves over the next five days. Each passenger was screened for the disease as they departed.
The American passengers were taken to one of four military bases across the country to undergo a federally mandated 14-day quarantine. The foreign passengers were flown back to their native countries.
Passengers who tested positive but did not need hospitalization ended up in a quarantine at a hotel in San Carlos. A plan that has been the source of controversy for many residents in the San Francisco Peninsula city. Several others required hospitalization.
Nearly half the crew was also allowed to leave. They were checked for any sign of the virus and then departed for quarantines at undisclosed locations.
The ship moved into the San Francisco Bay where it remained Wednesday.