(CN) – The Grand Princess cruise ship passed beneath the Golden Gate Bridge and trudged through San Francisco Bay on Monday morning, flanked by a coterie of Coast Guard ships headed toward a dock in Oakland where medical teams waited for at least 21 individuals who tested positive for the novel coronavirus to disembark.
The solemn procession of the ship came after state and federal officials scrambled to free up enough space to quarantine the 2,400 people aboard the ship, which had been floating listlessly in international waters off the coast of California since the first passengers tested positive for COVID-19 late last week.
“I feel like the government didn’t really have a plan here, they’re just making it up as they go,” said Archie Dill, a passenger on the Grand Princess.
While 21 people aboard the ship have already tested positive, officials believe the true number could be significantly higher as only 45 people have been tested so far. Of the 21 people infected, 19 are crew members – including the waiter who served a Placer County man who carried the virus aboard on a previous cruise.
The man, who became California’s first COVID-19 fatality, is believed to have acquired the virus through community spread.
Oakland residents have been expressing outrage over the decision to dock the boat in their community, noting that plans were scrapped to dock the Grand Princess in the more affluent San Francisco.
Governor Gavin Newsom said Oakland was chosen for logistical reasons. Passengers will disembark from the ship into an 11-acre area closed off to the general public before being flown to various military bases with quarantine facilities. Passengers with foreign passports will be conveyed to quarantine facilities in their home countries.
All will endure another 14 days in isolation.
The Grand Princess motored through the bay as officials in San Francisco announced five new cases of coronavirus Monday morning, bringing the city’s total to 19. Not counting the cruise ship passengers, California has 119 coronavirus cases, as of this printing Monday afternoon.
A Florida couple trapped on the ship for the past five days filed a lawsuit against Carnival’s Princess Cruise Lines on Monday as the ship finally docked in Oakland. Ronald and Eva Weisberger, a married couple from Broward County, said the company was negligent in continuing the trip even after it realized a passenger showed symptoms of coronavirus after having been on a previously infected ship.
“In continuing to sail with another 3,000 passengers, including plaintiffs, on February 21, 2020, knowing that some of those passengers and crew had already been exposed to COVID-19, the defendant Princess has exposed the plaintiffs to actual risk of immediate physical injury,” the couple says in their complaint.
President Donald Trump recently told the nation he preferred for the passengers to stay on the ship because he didn’t want the numbers of infected people inflated by having them come ashore.
The president has come under scrutiny for his performance in the face of the public health crisis, as many of his opponents have accused him of downplaying the seriousness of the disease to keep financial markets afloat.
The outbreak in the Golden State is centered in Santa Clara County, which has 37 cases, many of which were not related to international travel. Several health officials believe the coronavirus is more prevalent in California and other parts of the country, as the federal government’s rollout of tests for the virus was botched and continues to lag behind the spread of the disease.
“The biggest problem we have right now is that people can’t get tested,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, on Monday.
There are more 650 coronavirus cases in the United States, with 36 states reporting at least one instance of the virus.
New York has the most confirmed cases in the United States, surpassing Washington state on Monday.
But the West Coast has the most fatalities, most related to an elderly care facility in a Seattle suburb. So far, there are 26 deaths related to the virus in the United States.
The coronavirus continues to have an enormous impact on the fabric of American society.
The Dow Jones plunged 2,000 points Monday morning, erasing billions of dollars in accumulated wealth in a matter of hours as fears the virus could severely dent global supply and demand have taken hold.
The Indian Wells tennis tournament, one of the most important stops on the professional tennis circuit held annually in Southern California, canceled this year’s event out of fears over the virus.
Companies are urging workers to work from home. Many colleges, including Stanford University, have canceled classes while preparing to resume instruction via online classes.
Older Americans or those with underlying health problems have been advised by the State Department to stay off of cruise ships for the foreseeable future. Public health officials are recommending social distancing in some areas where the virus threat is particularly acute.
The Ninth Circuit announced Monday it would cancel en banc hearings and any meetings not related to a case for the rest of the week.
“At the discretion of the three-judge panels, there may be additional cancellations for next week as well,” the court announced Monday morning.
Many in the United States fret the country is only in the initial phase of the outbreak and could become like Italy if drastic public health measures are not adopted.
Italy is the worst-hit country after China, where the coronavirus originated in December. Italy has decided to limit the movement of all 60 million citizens, an unprecedented move for democracy and a testament to the transmissibility and danger of coronavirus.
Worldwide, more than 114,000 people have contracted the virulent disease. Of those, more than 4,000 people have died.
Experts estimate the fatality rate could be as high 3.5%, although a number closer to 1% is likely more accurate. Either way, is far less fatal than seasonal flu, which is responsible for thousands of deaths in the United States alone every year.
The mortality rates are particularly concerning for older Americans, as the disease stalks the aged and those with underlying conditions like heart disease, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.