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49 Nevadans on Grand Princess cruise ship being escorted home to start coronavirus quarantine

By Carla O'Day

Forty-nine Nevadans onboard the Grand Princess cruise ship diverted to Oakland this week are receiving charter flights back to the Silver State and will be escorted home to begin a quarantine as a result of potential exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19), state and local officials announced Tuesday.

Health officials have been in contact with Nevada passengers, who are reportedly all asymptomatic, said Kevin Dick, Washoe County Health District’s health officer. Forty-five people aboard the Grand Princess ship were tested for coronavirus with kits delivered by the U.S. Coast Guard and 21 came back positive. The ship went to the Hawaiian Islands and was scheduled to dock at San Francisco’s cruise port upon return.

Nevada’s state and local health authorities are prepared to support and safeguard you and your family, friends, and community.”

Gov. Steve Sisolak arranged for Nevadans to be screened and airlifted on one of two secure flights to non-public airports, one in Northern Nevada, the other in Southern Nevada. No further information was made public. Anyone refusing screening will remain in federal custody and be sent to a military base in either Texas or Georgia for quarantine.

Governor Steve Sisolak
Governor Steve Sisolak

“I am extremely gratified to let you know that you are returning to Nevada and not going to a military base in another state due to your potential exposure to COVID-19 aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship,” Sisolak wrote in a letter to Nevada passengers.

“You will receive a call today from your local health authority to evaluate your home situation and ensure that you are prepared for the required isolation period. With your return home, Nevada’s state and local health authorities are prepared to support and safeguard you and your family, friends, and community in the most efficient manner possible to protect everyone involved from the potential spread of COVID-19.”

Once charter flights arrive, health officials will transport passengers to their residences and Medical Research Corps staff will assist them with electronic grocery ordering and delivery, he said. Vehicles will be disinfected.

Passengers will be met upon arrival to be sure they understand their obligation. Dick said there are criminal charges for those who don’t comply with quarantines. He mentioned there’s a possibility of surveillance; although if it’s enacted, it likely wouldn’t be 24 hours.

“They’ll have a thermometer provided to them as part of their return, so everybody has a thermometer,” Dick said. “They’ll self-monitor and report back to the health district during that 14-day period on their condition. If any of them develop symptoms during that timeframe, we’ll be alerted to that immediately and we can take action to confirm whether it’s potential COVID-19.”

If any subjects exhibit symptoms during their 14-day incubation period, they will get re-tested for COVID-19. If they test positive, Dick said their quarantine would be extended and they would need two negative tests at least 24 hours apart before being cleared.

Coronavirus is a respiratory virus identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in late December. Symptoms include fever, coughing, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. It has sickened and killed thousands worldwide.

Washoe County has had one confirmed positive case by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a man in his 50s who recently returned home from a different cruise. There is also one presumptive positive case, a man in his 30s who recently traveled to Santa Clara, Calif. His results are awaiting CDC verification.

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