Health officials in Contra Costa County say that there are three new cases of covid-19 there, two of which were passengers aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship when it sailed to Mexico last month.
The fate of Grand Princess remains in limbo as we move into Friday afternoon, and we know per KPIX that 45 people, both passengers and crew, are symptomatic and that is how many tests are being done at a state lab in Richmond. Those results are still not in.
As ABC 7 reports via Contra Costa County officials, in addition to the two infected patients there who had been on the ship, the third case of the novel coronavirus in the county is in a patient who had close contact with another covid-19 patient in a different county.
The Mercury News is asking the obvious question, "Why are only 45 of 3,533 people aboard the Grand Princess being tested?" And the answer is not great.
Essentially, there still aren't enough test kits to go around, so the CDC and local officials have opted just to test the 45 people showing symptoms on the boat.
Dr. John Swartzberg, a specialist in infectious disease and clinical professor emeritus at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, tells the Merc, "The problem is that currently there are not enough tests yet. So we have to use them in a judicious fashion. And how do you effectively quarantine 3,000 people? We can’t."
That means when the ship finally docks, most of the people on board are likely going to head back to their homes and perhaps will be asked to self-quarantine.
As the Chronicle reports from a passenger on the ship who texted them, things didn't go so smoothly with dinner service last night. While other passengers described still being able to roam around the boat earlier Thursday (per the New York Times), everyone was reportedly ordered to remain in their cabins Thursday evening and dinner would be brought to them. But this passenger, 69-year-old Neil Kran of Sausalito, said he didn't get dinner until 10:30 p.m., and there's been a "total mismanagement of the situation."
Meanwhile, the CEO of Princess Cruises, Jan Swartz, posted a video to Twitter Friday in the effort to manage the unfolding PR crisis her company is facing. She said, in part, "In many respects, our ships are like small floating cities. Just as life happens in cities for good and for bad — the same happens onboard our ships." And she says, "Our hearts break for the families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives to this illness."
“Our ships are small floating cities. Just as life happens in cities for good and for bad–the same happens onboard our ships.” Our President, Jan Swartz shares how COVID-19 has affected guests on our ships and fellow team members, but also people around the world.#princesscruises pic.twitter.com/jNr5GaA4iw— Princess Cruises (@PrincessCruises) March 6, 2020
Photo: Tom Woodhouse