Fifty Marin residents may have been infected with coronavirus on the Grand Princess cruise ship off the California coast after taking a cruise to Mexico aboard the luxury liner Feb. 10 to 21, the Marin County health department said Thursday.
“We’ve received a list from the Centers for Disease Control and are now reaching out to those individuals,” said Dr. Lisa Santora, Marin County’s deputy public health officer.
A 71-year-old man who made the trip died after returning to Placer County. Another passenger who lives in Sonoma County has tested positive for the disease. And two more passengers, part of the group of 50 Marin residents who took the cruise, were hospitalized in Marin after displaying respiratory symptoms and are being tested for the virus.
“The testing has been completed but we don’t have results,” Santora said.
The test results are expected to be delayed because Gov. Gavin Newsom has prioritized the testing of passengers who took a cruise to Hawaii on the same ship after it returned from Mexico. The ship and its passengers are now idling off the coast of San Francisco.
“From my understanding that’s around 2,500 tests that will be processed through the same lab through which we process our tests,” Santora said.
She said that Princess Cruises, the owner of the Grand Princess, has made an effort to contact all the passengers who took the Mexican cruise to advise them of their possible exposure to coronavirus and urge them to report to public health officials.
“We’re working together to identify them and determine if they’re symptomatic,” Santora said.
She said so far none of the people contacted have reported symptoms. If some do, the next step will be to begin tracing who they have been in contact with since returning to Marin.
Santora said on Friday it will have been 14 days since the passengers left the ship so their quarantine period will be over provided they are asymptomatic.
Two more Marin residents who weren’t on the cruise have also been tested for the disease. One, the parent of a student at Marin Catholic High School in Kentfield, was hospitalized in Marin after displaying respiratory symptoms consistent with coronavirus. The student has displayed no symptoms but has been instructed to remain home from school until test results come back.
The other Marin resident was tested out of an abundance of caution because they had been exposed to a person who had traveled to a high-risk area in Italy.
Last week, an asymptomatic coronavirus patient who had been quarantined at Travis Air Force Base in Solano County was moved to Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Rafael. The patient, who is not a resident of Marin, was among the passengers evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan. The Diamond Princess is also owned by Princess Cruises.
The man who died of coronavirus in Placer County was California’s first death due to the disease, and Newsom declared a coronavirus state of emergency hours after it was announced. Marin County declared a state of emergency due to the disease on Tuesday.
Santora said Marin County opened its emergency operations center on Thursday to help coordinate the effort to contact the Marin residents who took the Grand Princess cruise to Mexico.
“We have county public health nurses who are answering phone calls from health care providers,” Santora said, “as we’re determining if Marin individuals qualify for coronavirus testing.”
Currently, Marin County health officials must clear all coronavirus testing with the CDC. That policy, however, is slated to change. Santora said as early as Monday health providers may be able to begin requesting testing for patients they suspect have the disease.
50 Marin cruise passengers exposed to coronavirus