1 Year Later: A Look Back at the Coronavirus Outbreak on Grand Princess Cruise Ship

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One year ago Friday, the world started to learn about the coronavirus and the Grand Princess cruise ship, which was circling in the Pacific. 

We knew the virus was on board, but we didn’t know how many people were infected. So, the federal government tapped a rescue team from the Bay Area to board the cruise and find out. 

“The jab was up there,” said Grand Princess Cruise passenger Desmond Knuckey.

The San Jose resident showed where the first and second dose of the coronavirus vaccine went into his arm. He’s now immune to the virus that defined 2020 for all and came close to infecting him while he was aboard the Grand Princess Cruise.  

“We know people were catching it on the ship and even people were dying so it was pretty bad and we were pretty desperate to get off there,” he said.

Knuckey was one of more than 3,500 people stuck on the Grand Princess Cruise, circling off the California coast. It was up to a rescue squadron from Moffett Field in Mountain View to get on board and figure out how many people were infected by performing nasal swab tests. 

“I was one of the first people to get one of these long swab tests down your nose and mouth and although I felt that I was contributing, it was not pleasant,” said Chief Master Sergeant Seth Zweben of the US Army Air Force.

Zweben says early on, the team understood the importance of social distancing and wearing PPE.  

“None of our members ended up contracting the virus, we believe firmly that that had to with proper mask and shield wearing,” he said.

Both Zweben and Knuckey say – the lessons they learned firsthand one year ago were valuable in navigating the pandemic.  

“Those were lessons that we got to learn far before it became talking points on TV,” said Zweben.

When asked if a cruise trip was in his future, Knuckey said “oh yeah, we’ll go back to it. It’s a wonderful way to travel.

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