There was an outbreak aboard the ship during a cruise last month to Mexico, and some passengers who got off in the Bay Area became sick when they got home. An elderly Placer County man became the first Californian to die of the virus. A second elderly man who was on the cruise died in Sunnyvale, and officials believe he was also infected. Tests are pending.
On Saturday, officials in Santa Cruz and Madera counties announced new cases tied to the cruise ship, adding to four cases in Placer County and three in Contra Costa County.
“We are taking this situation seriously and are taking steps necessary to protect the health and safety of Santa Cruz County residents,” said Gail Newel, the county health officer, in a statement Saturday.
The county said it was tracking other residents who were on the cruise. “All are being actively monitored and are under self-quarantine, with daily contact with public health officials. Testing is requested for those exhibiting symptoms,” the statement said.
County health workers have been reaching out to people who are already on shore to see if they have the virus and whether it has spread within their families or communities. That process is ongoing.
Meanwhile, the question of what to do with the roughly 3,000 people still on the boat off the coast of San Francisco remains. On Friday, 21 people aboard tested positive for the coronavirus.
Vice President Mike Pence said the federal government is working with the state to bring the cruise ship into a noncommercial port over the weekend and quarantine those aboard as necessary. Those testing positive so far included 19 crew and two passengers. A total of 46 people had been tested, a sign the virus was spreading aboard the boat.
President Trump said he would ultimately let Pence, who leads the task force in charge of the response, decide whether to allow passengers to leave the ship. But he said several times during a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta on Friday that he would be inclined to leave them on board because bringing them ashore would increase the number of official cases on American soil.
The Grand Princess dropped off passengers from the Mexico trip on Feb. 21 and was returning from a subsequent cruise to Hawaii when it was held off the California coast. With testing still underway, officials don’t know how many of the more than 3,000 people on board have the virus.
Placer County Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson said the man who died showed symptoms of COVID-19 while on the cruise and while traveling through the Port of San Francisco.
He called 911 and was taken by ambulance to a Kaiser Permanente facility in Roseville on Feb. 27. He was tested for COVID-19 on Sunday, with the results returned positive on Tuesday.