A Summerlin couple who were stuck on the Grand Princess cruise ship say they have been quarantined at a military base in San Diego despite assurances from Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak that they would be able to return home.
Ron Griebell, who was on the ship with his wife, Sandy Hahnenkratt, and their daughter, Susan Hahnenkratt, said the family was split up this week when they were finally able to leave the ship.
Griebell said his daughter was able to leave the ship on Tuesday and was taken to Travis Air Force Base in Northern California for a 14-day quarantine period because she is a California resident. But he and his wife were expecting to return to their Summerlin home to self-quarantine after receiving a letter from Sisolak saying he had made an arrangement to bring them home rather than spend the two weeks on a military base.
“I am extremely gratified to let you know that you are returning to Nevada and not going to a military base in another state due to your potential exposure to COVID-19 aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship,” the governor said in the letter sent Tuesday.
But Griebell said in an email late Wednesday that “in spite of what the governor of Nevada told us yesterday,” the couple were taken to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego and told to be ready to spend their entire quarantine period there.
He said the governor’s office sent an update on Wednesday afternoon, acknowledging that the Nevada residents would be taken to California.
“Like you, the information we have been receiving has been developing throughout the day, and can lead to frustration,” the letter said. “We have expressed our desire to have the federal agency communicate plans more efficiently as they are confirmed.”
Sisolak said in a news briefing Thursday evening that he understands the frustration among the Grand Princess passengers and he’s doing what he can to help.
“We only have control once they hit Nevada soil, and it’s my hope to get them on Nevada soil as quickly as we can,” he said.
Griebell said he and his wife left the ship around 2 p.m. Wednesday and arrived at a hotel on the military base around 11 p.m. When they arrived, he said they were instructed to quarantine in their room for 48 hours.
“Sandy and I figure we spent close to 144 hours in quarantine on the vessel and now we will serve another 48 hours here,” Griebell said in the email. “We have been told we will be here in Miramar for at least 14 days counting from the time we checked into the hotel tonight.”
But he said that once he got off the ship and realized the severity of the outbreak, he decided he and his wife are lucky to be where they are.
“I didn’t realize how big of a deal this was until we got on the plane and saw the (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) personnel all bundled up in hazmat gear to avoid catching the virus,” Griebell said Thursday afternoon. “I thought, ‘Wow, maybe this is a hell of a lot more serious than any of us thought!’”
He said that the hotel room is nice and the HHS personnel there have treated them well. He said there is a medical professional on site at all times, but he wasn’t sure they are doctors or nurses.
After 48 hours of isolation, Griebell said the passengers at Miramar were told they will be able to leave their room and walk around the grounds if they wear masks and stay at least 6 feet away from other people.
“This is like something out of Hollywood,” Griebell said. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before in my life.”
Griebell said he and his wife have another cruise scheduled for September, with Carnival Cruise Line. The company offered him a $100 onboard credit to keep his reservation, but he still plans to cancel the trip.
Princess Cruises declined to comment, directing questions to Health and Human Services.
The department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Sisolak’s office did not respond to requests for comment.