Updated 5:30 p.m.
A cruise ship carrying at least 21 people infected with the coronavirus arrived in Oakland on Monday, after idling for days off the coast of San Francisco, as federal and state officials prepared to transfer its thousands of passengers to military bases for quarantine or return them to their home countries.
The Grand Princess pulled into the Port of Oakland with more than 3,500 people aboard. Passengers lining the balconies waved and some left the cabins where they had been in isolation to go on deck as the ship entered the port.
As it sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge, passenger Karen Schwartz Dever said “everyone was hollering and clapping as we entered the harbor.”
The 23 people who needed acute medical care had been taken off the ship by late Monday afternoon, but it was not clear how many of them had tested positive for the virus, said Shawn Boyd, a spokesman for the California Office of Emergency Services.
Live TV footage showed at least one passenger, an older man wearing a face mask, climbing onto a stretcher and being lifted into the back of an ambulance. Officials have said the unloading will take up to three days.
“Our intent is to basically disembark about half the passengers today. Everyone will be screened initially today," said Robert Kadlec, assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Services.
Workers wearing gloves and yellow protective gear erected a large tent by a platform where passengers were disembarking, and two tents displaying Canadian flags were also on the tarmac. At least 20 buses and five ambulances waited. Canada and the UK were among the countries sending chartered flights to take home citizens.