Thousands of people returning to the Bay Area from a Hawaiian cruise will have to wait a bit longer to go home, after a California man who had recently been aboard the ship died from complications of the novel coronavirus.
Some people on board the Grand Princess cruise ship will be tested for COVID-19, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday during a state of emergency proclamation. The ship, bound for San Francisco, remained off the coast of California pending its arrival in port that had been scheduled for Thursday.
The ship originally left from San Francisco on a 15-day voyage to Hawaii after traveling to and from Mexico. A 71-year-old Placer County man who had been on the Mexico trip died of COVID-19 this week after the ship returned from Mexico on Feb. 21.
Newsom said the death — the first in California — and the cruise ship headed to the state were the reasons for the emergency proclamation.
“It’s a dynamic situation but nothing that should be alarming,” he said.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed said on Twitter that city officials have been told by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Coast Guard “that a cruise ship originally scheduled to return to San Francisco contains individuals who have exhibited flu-like symptoms.”
Officials with city departments including the mayor’s office, the department of emergency management, department of public health and the Port of San Francisco will be assisting, as needed, the mayor’s office said.
Newsom said that 53 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the state as of Wednesday. Twenty-four of those persons were repatriated. About 9,000 people in the state are being monitored.
A request was made to delay the ship’s pending arrival in San Francisco, although Newsom said it could be in port Thursday. CDC spokesman Scott Pauley said they were still in the planning stage.
Newsom said test kits were being flown to the ship and the results will be sent to a lab in Richmond to see if anyone with symptoms has the virus.
California now has 14 labs for testing people for the virus and Newsom said he expects that number to rise to 20.
The state had more than 5,000 test kits as of Wednesday.