by Abigail Sterling

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — More than a month after passengers on the Grand Princess cruise ship embarked on their fateful voyage, hundreds of them are finally back home.

KPIX spoke to Terry and Sheryl Hopkins, a Sonoma County couple who were just released from quarantine at Travis Air Force Base:

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Terry: We were excited to be on this cruise. We had never been to Hawaii before and it was our 50th wedding anniversary. So we wanted to do something special. We get on our way to Ensenada or about halfway there and that’s when they told us the news about that fellow from Placerville who died, who was on a previous cruise to Mexico on the same ship. Then they said “Well, we’re not going to go to Ensenada, we’re going to go straight towards San Francisco.” It just started getting ugly from there. We’re supposed to be into our dock on Saturday, early in the morning to get off and go home, and we spent the next five days roaming around in circles in the ocean, just 40 miles outside of San Francisco.

Sheryl: It’s like they were trying to figure out what to do with us. We had to quarantine to our rooms I think it was on Thursday. We would open the door with the mask on and pull the tray in and have our breakfast. (trim to) Fortunately, we had a mini suite which had a balcony so we could get some fresh air. I felt really bad for people on the inside who didn’t even have a window.

Terry and Sheryl Hopkins

Terry: Saturday comes and goes, sunday comes and goes, Monday. And we were finally docked into Oakland instead of San Francisco, and on Monday they started letting some people go. We were supposed to be like second off, but we didn’t get to go until about five o’clock on Tuesday. We got on the bus. We had a police escort to Travis Air Force Base. It was very disorganized. You get there and you should be able to get off and go to your room. But we had to sit on a bus for almost two hours and then when we got off we had to dig through all this luggage to try to find our luggage.

Sheryl: They were trying to keep us apart but it was still chaotic. People were all around each other. Then one of the soldiers comes out and says “you can’t go to your rooms. They’re not ready. You have to go somewhere else.” I just want to sit down and cry. It’s freezing cold. It was so unorganized, you know? And everybody there, the majority of people, they’re in their eighties and nineties.

Terry: We got there about 7 p.m. and we didn’t get to our room until 1:30 a.m. The room itself was OK. Travis Air Force Base is like a big city. They brought food to our room –they always had a face mask — twice a day. We got our temperature taken. That’s one of the reasons we didn’t get tested for the virus. We felt OK.

Sheryl: We weren’t feeling bad and then, when they offered [to test], it was close to the end … you were first told that if you test and the test results don’t come you’d have to stay longer.

Terry: We’re home finally, you know.

Sheryl: My work is cleaning houses so I’m cleaning my own house right now.

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Statement from HHS spokesperson:

The federal quarantine mission on Travis Air Force Base has ended. All passengers have returned safely to their home states. As of today, 13 passengers tested positive for COVID-19; 62 tests results are pending.

Any passenger that had a positive test while on base was immediately transferred to an alternative care facility or hospital for follow up care and isolation.

On March 23, the CDC rescinded the quarantine order for all people that didn’t have symptoms and are currently under a federal quarantine order.

The rescission does not mean passengers had completed the incubation period for this disease. Passengers electing to go home prior to the end of their 14-day quarantine are required to home quarantine and follow public health recommendations for self-monitoring or monitoring as supervised by your local public health authority.

Any passenger who had to extend their federal quarantine due to a contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19 must continue to self-monitor for any symptoms for the completion of the 14 days since the he/she had known contact with the case, regardless of the passenger’s current location.

Passengers who left HHS quarantine before test results were available will be contacted as soon as test results are received by HHS officials. Typically, the notification will be done by telephone. In some cases, HHS will use other methods to communicate results. For instance, email may be used for passengers who did not provide a phone number or whose phone number no longer works.

In addition, HHS has and will continue to notify state health departments if a passenger residing in their state had a positive test result. It is anticipated that the state will also follow up with passengers residing in their home.

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All passengers that receive a positive test result after leaving base are required to follow public health recommendations for self-monitoring or monitoring as supervised by your local public health authority.