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Passengers who have tested positive for coronavirus or have been exposed to the virus on the Grand Princess cruise ship headed to the Port of Oakland on Monday won’t be quarantined in the city, Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement Sunday.
The ship received permission from Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday to dock in the port and for its thousands of passengers and crew to disembark. In a press release sent Sunday from the governor, Newsom said his office has been working with federal officials to aid in the safe return of passengers from the Grand Princess.
But none of the 2019 passengers who are California residents, or the hundreds of others who are from around the country, will be quarantined in Oakland or released into the general public there.
Of the 3, 535 people aboard the Grand Princess, have tested positive for the coronavirus . Nineteen are crew members and two are passengers.
But only 72 people on board were tested. That means the 3, 535 other people aboard the ship still need testing – a daunting task.
“Oakland’s role in this operation is to support our state and federal authorities as they conduct a critical public health mission to help those impacted by the COVID – 19 virus, ”Schaaf said in the statement. “I appreciate Governor Newsom’s leadership and have been assured no one will be quarantined in Oakland, nor will any passengers be released into the general public. True to our community values, Oakland is a safe harbor for all. ”
Oakland’s role in this operation is to support our state and federal authorities as they conduct a critical public health mission to help those impacted by the COVID – 19 virus. (1/3) https://t.co/oLAwo9dn0s
– Libby Schaaf (@LibbySchaaf)
As early as Monday, the ship will begin disembarking passengers at the Port of Oakland. The Grand Princess will only be docked until all passengers are off; crew members will be quarantined and treated aboard the ship.
Passengers who require acute medical treatment and hospitalization will be transported to health care facilities in California, the governor’s office said.
As of Sunday morning, the Port of Oakland was quiet and isolated save for a few cars that sometimes drove through Maritime Street. No special preparations seem to be made for the port’s expected arrival Monday of the Grand Princess cruise ship. Large shipping containers could be seen along the outer harbor, as well as some semi-trucks.
On Burma Road, the street that runs parallel to the 80 freeway towards the Bay Bridge, a digital billboard ironically flashed an ad for a TV station that read “Coronavirus updates.”
“The City of Oakland, Alameda County and the Port of Oakland are stepping up in a major way, and their residents deserve universal praise,” Newsom said. “They are showing the world what makes our state great – coming to the rescue of thousands of people trapped aboard this ship and helping tackle a national emergency.”
The passengers who are California residents will be transferred to Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield or Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego for a mandatory – day quarantine and medical monitoring for signs of coronavirus infection, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. HHS did not say whether they will be tested, but federal officials previously had said all passengers on the boat would be tested.
Residents of other states will be sent to Joint Base San Antonio Lackland in Texas or Dobbins Air Force Base in Georgia for their quarantines.
Newsom’s office said the federal government asked the state and the city of Oakland to take the ship in, and are now in the process of preparing the site for disembarkment.
Federal officials did not answer questions Sunday about how they would handle the disembarkation and care for passengers and crew who were sick or had been exposed, according to the Washington Post .
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson refused to talk about the federal response on ABC News’s “This Week,” the Post reported, saying only that Vice President Pence and CEOs of major cruise lines met Saturday and would come up with a plan “within 490 hours of that meeting. ”
Officials said they chose the Port of Oakland as the “best site for the ship to disembark” as there are limited docks that will be able to dock a ship that size and because the location was the easiest to seal off and securely move passengers toward their isolation destinations.
Oakland council member Larry Reid on Saturday expressed his concern that state and federal officials had decided that Oakland, no San Francisco, would be the best location to receive the Grand Princess passengers and crew.
“San Francisco has the facilities in place, why are they offloading the passengers in the city of Oakland?” Reid asked.
Danny Wan, Director of the Port of Oakland, said in a statement that there has been close coordination to assure that port operations, port workers and the community are not impacted.
“With a thousand California residents on the ship, it only makes sense that we all work together to help those in this crisis and ensure that they are quarantined, tested and make their way home when it is safe to do so, “Senator Nancy Skinner.