East Bay elected officials have taken to social media Sunday morning in response to confirmation by the Governor's Office of Emergency Services that the Grand Princess cruise ship, quarantined off the California coast, will dock Monday at the Port of Oakland.
Some of the posts seek to reassure the public about safety measures that will be taken during the long process of offloading passengers.
"Oakland's role in this operation is to support our state and federal authorities as they conduct a critical public health mission to help those impacted by the COVID-19 virus," Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff said Sunday in the news release and on Twitter.
"I appreciate (California Gov.) Gavin Newsom's leadership and have been assured no one will be quarantined in Oakland, nor will any passengers be released into the general public," she said. "True to our community values, Oakland is a safe harbor for all."
Oakland District Councilwoman Nikki Fortunato Bas noted on her Twitter account that "The ship will only be in Oakland for the disembarkment. No passengers or crew will be released into the general public and no one will be quarantined in Oakland. In times of crisis we must all step up to protect the health + safety of those in need and the general public."
The Grand Princess was halted on its voyage from Hawaii to San Francisco over concerns about the virus and has remained off the California coast while authorities determined a "non-commercial port" for it to dock.
Federal and state officials asked Oakland and its port to serve that role, the Governor's Office of Emergency Services said in a news release Sunday, emphasizing that the ship will only be docked as long as needed to evacuate passengers.
"After careful review of all options, the Port of Oakland was selected as the best site for the ship to disembark," the office said. "There are limited docks that will be able to dock a ship of that size, and the Port of Oakland location was the easiest to seal off, securely move passengers toward their isolation destinations and protect the safety of the public."
U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee said on Twitter that she is "Proud of my State, City, County & Port of Oakland for stepping up during this public health crisis to work with the federal government to aid the people trapped on the #GrandPrincess. Protecting the public health of the passengers and our community will be central to this effort."
Oakland Council President Rebecca Kaplan used Twitter to raise concerns with the OES and Gov. Newsom over handling of the disembarking.
"What steps are you taking to make sure people who work with the evacuees aren't sent in unprotected and spread it into the community," she asked. "And will you fund hand-washing stations for our communities -- incl. homeless -- to help stop the spread of disease?"
The OES noted that almost 1,000 of the ship's passengers are Californians who "have been through a great deal of stress and were potentially exposed to this virus through no fault of their own."
The office said that passengers would not be released into the general public.
Passengers requiring acute medical treatment and hospitalization will be taken to health care facilities in California, the office said.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services said in a news release Sunday that "Passengers will be transferred to federal military installations for medical screening, COVID-19 testing, and a 14-day quarantine."
Passengers from California "will complete the mandatory quarantine at Travis Air Force Base (in Fairfield) and Miramar Naval Air Station (in San Diego), and residents of other states will complete the mandatory quarantine at Joint Base San Antonio Lackland in Texas or Dobbins Air Force Base in Georgia."
Officials said Friday that 46 aboard the ship were tested for the virus, and 21 were positive -- 19 of them crewmembers.
"The crew will be quarantined and treated aboard the ship, but importantly, the ship will only stay in Port of Oakland for the duration of disembarkment," the OES said. "This ship will depart Oakland as soon as possible and will remain elsewhere for the duration of the crew's quarantine."