Updated Mar 8, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus-hit cruise ship cleared to dock in Oakland, California

The Princess Cruises' Grand Princess cruise ship sits off the coast of San Francisco on Saturday. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Grand Princess cruise ship, stranded off San Francisco's coast with 21 people aboard who've tested positive for the novel coronavirus, has been cleared to dock in Oakland, California, on Monday, operator Princess Cruises said in a statement.

Details: Princess Cruises initially said in a statement early Sunday authorities had cleared it to arrive at the Port of Oakland later in the day "to begin disembarking guests who require acute medical treatment and hospitalization." But it later said after further review by state and federal authorities the docking day had changed, with a "time to be determined."

"According to Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, following health screenings, guests who are California residents will go to a federally operated facility within California for testing and isolation, while non-Californians will be transported by the federal government to facilities in other states. Crew will be quarantined and treated aboard the ship."
— Princess Cruises statement

The big picture: California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) declared a state of emergency on Wednesday as the state recorded its first death from the coronavirus — an elderly patient who tested positive for COVID-19 after disembarking from the Grand Princess.

  • Princess Cruises confirmed in an earlier statement there had been a "small cluster" of COVID-19 cases in Northern California connected to its Grand Princess cruise ship. Of those who tested positive on the Grand Princess, 19 were crew members and 2 were passengers, Vice President Mike Pence told reporters on Friday.
  • The patient who died "tested presumptively positive on Tuesday at a California lab and was likely exposed during international travel from Feb. 11–21 on a Princess cruise ship that departed from San Francisco to Mexico," Placer County Public Health said in a statement. "The patient was in isolation at Kaiser Permanente Roseville."
  • Pence said all passengers and crew would be tested after the ship is brought into a "non-commercial port" over the weekend. There are thousands on board.

What they're saying: President Trump told reporters on Friday he would rather those on the Grand Princess stay on the ship, instead of leaving — after which they would be quarantined and medically treated as appropriate.

  • "I like the numbers being where they are," he said while touring the Centers for Disease Control headquarters in Atlanta.
  • "I don't need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn't our fault. And it wasn't the fault of people on the ship either. ... And they're mostly Americans. I can live either way with it, I'd rather have them stay on, personally," he added.
  • Trump said he had authorized his coronavirus task force, which "would like to have the people come off," to allow those on the ship to disembark.

Of note: Princess Cruises also operates the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was quarantined off the coast of Yokohama, Japan, last month after a coronavirus outbreak that infected more than 700 people.

  • The outbreak saw the U.S. and other countries launch operations to repatriate citizens, who were then placed into quarantine. Some 100 left in Japan were placed under temporary travel restrictions.
  • The State Department told Axios in a statement last Tuesday, "U.S. Mission Japan will continue to provide all possible consular services to U.S. citizens remaining in Japan."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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