VP Pence says 21 people on the Grand Princess cruise ship off California coast have tested positive for coronavirus

In this image from video, provided by the California National Guard, a helicopter carrying airmen with the 129th Rescue Wing flies over the Grand Princess cruise ship off the coast of California Thursday, March 5, 2020.

California National Guard | AP

Vice President Mike Pence on Friday said 21 people on the Grand Princess cruise ship moored off the coast of California have tested positive for coronavirus. 

Of the 21 people who tested positive, 19 are crew members and two are passengers, Pence said, adding that the ship will be brought to a non commercial port and every person tested. “Those who need to be quarantined will be quarantined,” Pence said in a briefing. 

There are more than 3,500 people aboard the ship.

The ship, which was on a two-week voyage to Hawaii, was ordered to return early to San Francisco, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday, adding that passengers and crew have developed symptoms. A spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that three passengers who were previously on the ship have tested positive, including one who has died.

The ship was due to arrive in San Francisco on Wednesday, Newsom said, but has been held off the coast of California while testing was conducted. The U.S. Coast Guard delivered test kits to the ship by helicopter on Thursday.

“Once we have results from the tests, the CDC and the state will determine the most appropriate location for the ship to berth,” executive director of San Francisco’s Department of Emergency Management Mary Ellen Carroll said Thursday.

Only passengers and crew who have symptoms and people who were guests on the ship’s previous voyage were tested, the company said in a statement, which is 45 people.

On the other side of the country in D.C., the Trump administration is considering ways to discourage U.S. travelers from taking cruises as part of a broader Trump administration effort to limit the spread of coronavirus, according to four officials familiar with the situation.

The officials, who asked to remain anonymous, said no decision has been made. The discussions are taking place ahead of a meeting between Vice President Mike Pence, who is in charge of leading the U.S. response to the coronavirus, and the cruise industry this weekend.

The administration could advise some or all U.S. travelers to temporarily avoid taking cruises in the face of a growing number of coronavirus cases on cruise ships, officials said.

Pence’s office did not immediately comment.

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