3,500 passengers, crew wait on cruise as Richmond lab tests 45 coronavirus samples

More than 3,500 passengers and crew members on a cruise ship off the San Francisco bay are being treated to room service as they must stay in their cabins while awaiting test results that could show whether the coronavirus is circulating among them

A spokesperson from the state's Office of Emergency Services told KTVU that some of the tests were completed Thursday night, but the rest are not yet complete. He hoped they would be ready sometime later on Friday. 

On Thursday, in dramatic fashion, a military helicopter crew lowered the kits onto the 951-foot Grand Princess by rope.

Joyce Li took some of that helicopter video and shared it with KTVU.

In an email from the ship on Friday, Li said that both she and her husband are doing well, but confined in their stateroom.

"Meals are delivered to us with water, tea and coffee," she said. "We get announcements on information to get whatever services we may need. "

She also said there are "plenty of movies and news to watch." The crew was even bringing by activity kits later in the afternoon.

Other than the restriction of being confined, Li said "we are comfortable. Hope to be able to be free again and not get sick from the ship. "

Video captured Coast Guard members retrieving the kits in picnic-style coolers to bring for analysis as the Grand Princess was told by California Gov. Gavin Newsom to stay offshore. 

WATCH: Helicopter carrying coronavirus test kits arrives in Richmond

Princess Cruises said 45 people were selected for testing. No cases of the virus had been confirmed among those still on the ship. But 35 passengers complained of flu-like symptoms over the past two weeks or so, said Mary Ellen Carroll, executive director of San Francisco's Department of Emergency Management.

"Once we have results from the tests," she said, authorities "will determine the best location for the ship to berth.”

Michele Smith, a Grand Princess passenger, posted video on Facebook of the helicopter that arrived at the ship. Another video showed a crew member wearing gloves and a mask and spraying and wiping a handrail.

“We have crews constantly cleaning our ship,” Smith was heard saying.

In a post, Smith said she and her husband were not quarantined and were told that only the people who had been on the Mexico voyage or those showing flu-like symptoms had to isolate themselves.

“Spirits are as high as can be under these circumstances. We are blessed to be healthy, comfortable and well-fed,” she wrote.

Authorities undertook the testing on the cruise after a 71-year-old man from Placer County, who was on a previous voyage of the ship to Mexico, died Wednesday of the coronavirus and at least four others became infected. That man was the first coronavirus-related death in California. 

Another Princess cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, was quarantined for two weeks in Yokohama, Japan, last month because of the virus, and ultimately about 700 of the 3,700 people aboard became infected in what experts pronounced a public-health failure, with the vessel essentially becoming a floating germ factory.

Meanwhile, the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus climbed to 14, with all but one victim in Washington state, while the number of infections swelled to over 200, scattered across at least 18 states. Pennsylvania reported its first cases Friday.

On Friday, President Donald Trump signed an $8.3 billion measure to help tackle the outbreak. It provides federal public health agencies with money for tests and for potential vaccines and treatments and helps state and local governments prepare for the threat and respond to it.

On Wall Street, fears about the outbreak led to a sharp selloff Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 970 points, or 3.6%. The drop extended two weeks of wild swings in the market, with stocks fluctuating 2% or more for the fourth day in a row.

The coronavirus has infected around 100,000 people worldwide and killed over 3,400, the vast majority of them in China. Most cases have been mild, and more than half of those infected have recovered.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.