California Gov. Gavin Newsom said that 114 people have tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus while 1,540 individual Californians on the Grand Princess cruise ship held off the coast of the state are being monitored.
“That number is fluid,” said Newsom in a televised news conference on Sunday. “That’s the number that we have from this morning.” Overall, around 10,400 people are being monitored for the disease, and one person died from the virus in Placer County last week, according to the governor.
So far, 12 people on the Grand Princess have tested positive for the mysterious new virus, he said before he explained why state officials chose Oakland for the place for the passengers to disembark and be processed.
“We felt it more appropriate to have it here in Northern California,” Newsom said of the site that will be used to allow cruise passengers to disembark. The governor said that federal and state officials are currently “clearing” the site, and he expects it to be usable in several days.
Newsom said the Port of Oakland was chosen because of the state’s ability to isolate a significant area to curb the spread of the virus. About 10 acres are being secured, he said, adding that international Grand Princess passengers can be easily repatriated via the Oakland Airport and Travis Air Force Base.
In a statement, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services said the passengers on the ship will not be released to the general public, and those who are in need of medical care will be taken to health care facilities in the state.
Princess Cruise officials confirmed there are 3,533 people currently on board Grand Princess, including 2,422 passengers and 1,111 crew workers. Fifty-four nationalities are represented, according to KRON4.
“The Port will provide assistance as necessary for the safe disembarkation of the passengers,” said Danny Wan, the director of the Port of Oakland, in a statement. “There has been close coordination to assure that port operations, port workers and the community are not impacted.”
It comes as the Elk Grove Unified School District in southern Sacramento County, which is the largest in the state, announced that it would close next week over the COVID-19 outbreak and concerns.
“We will also move up our April Traditional/Modified Traditional Spring Break to the week of March 9 to March 13 to minimize the impact to student learning and any loss of school days,” the district said in a statement. “Future adjustments to the school calendar may need to be made.”
Elk Grove Unified has more than 63,000 students with 42 elementary schools, nine middle schools, and nine high schools, SFGate noted.
More than 400 people have tested positive for COVID-19 across the United States, with more than half of states reporting at least one case. The virus has spread to every continent other than Antarctica after it first emerged in Wuhan, China, in December, prompting the Chinese Communist Party to implement what critics have said were severe measures to curb its spread.
Virginia, Vermont, and Connecticut on Sunday announced their first cases of the virus. A day before that, Hawaii and Utah announced that residents in their respective states tested positive. Overall, 21 people have died of the virus in the United States, with the majority occurring in Washington state, according to figures from The Associated Press.