BLOOMBERG, March 9, 2020
🛳After days circling at sea, ship brought to port in Oakland 🛳Passengers to be offloaded in stages, starting with the sick
By David R Baker for BLOOMBERG – The cruise ship that spent days circling the waters off San Francisco with people sickened by the new coronavirus returned to land Monday at an isolated dock, to begin the long process of offloading passengers into quarantine.
The Grand Princess — operated by Carnival Corp.’s Princess Cruises — pulled into an unused dock at the Port of Oakland around noon local time, trailed by hovering news helicopters. At least 21 people on board have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The ship’s arrival marked the end of one unexpected ordeal for the more than 3,500 people on board and the start of another. Offloading the passengers will take days, and once ashore, most will be whisked to military bases in California and elsewhere for testing and quarantine. The crew, meanwhile, will sail back out of the bay, to be quarantined on the ship.
Nineteen of the people who have tested positive for the virus so far are crew members, while two are passengers. A California man who sailed on a prior voyage died of the virus last week, prompting state and federal officials to hold the ship offshore while they searched for a place where it could be brought to land without infecting people nearby.
The arrival Monday came with little fanfare. After the docking, personnel in orange and green vests tethered the ship to cleats. No passengers could be seen from the balconies.
Ill passengers — those with the virus or other medical problems — will disembark first, according to state and federal authorities. Next will come California residents, who will be transferred to nearby Travis Air Force Base or the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in Southern California. Residents of other states will be flown to bases in Texas and Georgia.
Meanwhile, foreign governments were making arrangements Monday for their own citizens on the ship, with Canada reporting it had arranged a plane to bring its people home from California.
— With assistance by Kartikay Mehrotra
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