Nearly 800 disembark Grand Princess cruise ship, process to continue Thursday

Thursday should be the final day for evacuation from the Grand Princess cruise ship in Oakland. 

Almost 800 passengers came off the ship Wednesday, with fewer than 300 remaining, according to CDC spokesman Dave Daigle.

The stragglers have been more difficult to find charter flights for, said Daigle, due to special circumstances or out-of-the-way destinations.

"We live in strange times, I'll say that," said West Oakland resident Matt Kong, who has twice made his way to the waterfront to observe the ship and take photos.
"Thankfully Oakland was willing to open itself up to this and allow these people to get off, when they were just circling," said Kong. "I felt bad for them, it's a damn shame."

Hundreds of people taken off the ship are settling in to a two-week quarantine at Travis Air Force Base forty miles away. 

But after numerous busloads over three days, the Westwind Hotel is now filled to capacity. 

Newly arriving passengers Wednesday were taken to alternate housing on the base, zones that are also surrounded by chain link fence.   

"As of Wednesday, we have 177 cases confirmed of COVID-19 in the state of California," said Dr. Charity Dean, Assistant Director of the California Public Health Department. 

Dean and other officials spoke at a briefing in San Carlos, explaining why some evacuees, who test positive but are not ill, have been placed in designated hotels on the Peninsula and in Monterey County, lodging used exclusively for quarantine.  

"They may have mild symptoms but don't need a hospital," said Dean, "and our job right now as Public Health, is to be prepared to meet this moment and support our Federal partners, and take care of each other."  

At Oakland International Airport, a distant tarmac was busy Wednesday afternoon with buses and chartered jets, coming and going. 
Passengers from the Grand Princess, masks on, boarded flights for the next stage of their ordeal: quarantine at other military bases or even more distant destinations. 

"I waved at them a few times hoping I could get a wave back," said DHL driver Freddie Wilson, who has been observing the spectacle all week as it plays out next to the company's airport hub. 

"It's crazy for us to open up the back of DHL doors and see the planes and people," said Wilson.

"They look like they're tired and ready to go home, fed up with what's going on and want it to be over." 

Wilson said some DHL employees expressed worry about working so close to the evacuees, and the company was allowing those workers to go home. 

"They're passing out masks, gloves, and there's a whole table full of Lysol to keep our trucks clean," added Wilson.  

Almost 2200 passengers have disembarked the ship since the operation began Monday.

A crew of 1100 will remain on board, and quarantine at sea, or at an undisclosed location, not yet announced by Carnival Cruises.