John and Teresa Johnson, along with 32 other Georgians on the Grand Princess cruise ship, will be flown from California to Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Cobb County for testing and quarantine if necessary, according to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.
“I have learned that 34 Georgians and additional American citizens from the eastern United States who are currently on the Grand Princess cruise ship off the California coast will be securely transferred to Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia. These passengers will undergo testing and be quarantined for possible exposure to COVID-19. They are expected to arrive at Dobbins late Monday, March 9, or early Tuesday, March 10.” Kemp announced in a statement. “I am confident that Dobbins is equipped to provide high-quality care for Americans in need while keeping Georgia families safe, and our state stands ready to assist our federal partners if requested.”
Kemp went on to encourage Georgians to pray for the patients affected by COVID-19 and their health care providers.
“We must continue to support one another, trust the advice of the medical community, and remain vigilant,” he said. “My office remains in constant communication with the Trump administration, lawmakers, and state and local officials to ensure the health and safety of families across Georgia and our country. We will continue to provide updates as soon as they become available.”
In the meantime, Teresa Johnson has been updating everybody on her Facebook page. Twenty-one people on board the Grand Princess have tested positive for COVID-19. The Johnsons have not yet been tested. She said the cruise line had treated them all well, had opened up the Internet and added broadband so they all had good Internet service. The cruise line had provided meals as well as games for them to play while they were confined to their cabins. She said they had a balcony cabin, which made life easier for them. Unfortunately, people on social media have not always been so kind. Kristin Henshaw of Loganville who worked closely with Johnson on FACES, the Jingle Jog and other autism events posted this comment on Facebook.
“I know 2 very sweet people on board this ship. The lady has expressed that the social media hate towards them has been seen BY them because of course they still get internet access onboard……even so far as suggesting the ship should be “blown up”. This is inexcusable. INEXCUSABLE. These people deserve to be treated with CARE and LOVE, not hate.
Panic and MISINFORMATION leads to hate and division. How about everyone treat each other with RESPECT and CARE.”
On Feb. 21, Teresa Johnson and her husband, John, set off on a cruise headed to Hawaii aboard Princess Cruises’ Grand Princess. Johnson is a former parent mentor with Walton County Public Schools and was the founder of Walton County Families of Autism/Asperger’s Care, Educate and Support (F.A.C.E.S.). The couple moved to Augusta on their retirement a few years ago.
Johnson has been sharing photos with Facebook friends of their cruise and port visits in Hawaii. Their final port of call was scheduled for Thursday when they were supposed to dock in Ensenada, Mexico before heading back to San Francisco. That cruise, however, has now come to an abrupt end after the first California death of COVID-19 was reported Wednesday. The ship is now headed back to San Francisco where the passengers will be quarantined offshore pending testing for the coronavirus. The 71-year-old man from California who died from coronavirus was on the previous trip on the Grand Princess that ended the same day that the Johnson’s cruise began.
“There are 62 passengers on board who were on the previous cruise. Those passengers are being quarantined. So far 21 people on board experiencing symptoms,” Johnson said.
Prior to Wednesday, those 62 passengers had moved about the ship freely. However, when the news broke on the coronavirus death from the prior trip, the were quarantined until they can be tested and cleared by medical staff. Test kits are being flown to the ship once it is closer to shore. Johnson is concerned about a delay due to an extended quarantine on board. They are scheduled to fly back to Georgia on Sunday.
“The Governor of California has refused to allow the ship to dock, and approximately 100 people are to be tested,” Johnson said. “We won’t know the results till tomorrow and then more tests will be required if any of them come back positive.”
Johnson said they received a notice under the door of their cabin last night informing them they would be required to vacate the cabin this morning “due to a helicopter procedure.”
It’s unclear what will happen once the ship arrives and company officials say that the early return to San Francisco is being done “out of an abundance of caution.” Johnson said they are being urged to wash their hands regularly with hand sanitizers and to use all kinds of safety measures.
Johnson has already spoken to an ABC News station about their situation and has now been approached by CNN for an interview by them. She said she is concerned about an extended quarantine. Her husband, who has some health issues, will need to get some medications replenished. She also is concerned because having been on board for 14 days she feels sure they would have come into contact with some of the 62 passengers from the previous voyage.