Carnival Cruise Line officials had no clearer indication Saturday of where the Grand Princess ship being held off California’s coast was headed.
They said they had been in touch with federal and state officials as well as the Port of San Francisco. Frustration, however, was mounting about uncertainties as to when the ship would dock and where, as well as what Carnival officials called a lack of an established testing regimen for passengers and crew members, 21 of whom have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Nineteen of the patients are employees.
“Our guests who expected to disembark today still do not know what to expect next,” Jan Swartz, group president of Princess Cruises and Carnival Australia, said on a conference call with reporters Saturday.
Passengers were dismayed about sparse information and the fact that they learned about positive tests for the virus through a Friday afternoon news conference.
“We, too, were disappointed that we were not officially notified and could share that with the guests in advance of the announcement being made,” Swartz said.
Grant Tarling, chief medical officer for Carnival Corp., said he believed the virus arrived on the ship and infected the crew by community transmission from California. The patient originally infected, who was on a Feb. 11- 21 cruise, was from Placer County, Calif., and was served by two waiters who later tested positive for coronavirus aboard the ship.
That patient reported to the ship’s medical center with what Tarling called a “six- to seven-day history of symptoms of acute respiratory illness.”
“We believe his illness was probably community-acquired somewhere in California before he joined the ship,” Tarling said. “We believe both the waiters that served that [person’s] table may have been infected.”
Aboard the ship, more than 3,500 passengers and crew are confined to their staterooms. There are 2,422 passengers and 1,111 staff members representing 64 countries, company officials said — including 2,016 passengers from the United States and 938 from California.
Among those who tested positive were crew members from the Philippines and passengers from the United States, the company said. Very few of the crew members are from the United States, according to the officials.
Tarling said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had not settled on a testing protocol for crew and other passengers aboard the ship. It was unknown, he said, whether everyone on the ship would be tested or whether individuals would face a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon disembarking.
“There’s a number of scenarios they are apparently still working on,” said Tarling, who said the company had been in touch with the CDC. “One of them is testing, who will be tested. We do not know that information.”
Vice President Pence has said people on board will be quarantined as needed. CDC spokesperson Belsie González said in an email Saturday evening that the agency is “committed to protecting the health and safety of all Americans.”
“The U.S. Government is taking measures to protect the Grand Princess passengers and crew, their loved ones, the traveling public, and communities within the United States,” González wrote.