An Olympia woman who was a passenger on the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan has been confirmed to have the COVID-19 — coronavirus — and is being treated under isolation at a California hospital.
Marianne Obenchain, 59, was admitted to Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, California, on Monday, according to news reports. She and another patient were flown to the hospital from Travis Air Force Base, in Solano County, California, where they arrived from Japan after being under quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship for about two weeks.
The patients are being held in isolation rooms that have negative pressure to minimize the risk of exposure, Dr. Amy Herold, chief medical officer at Queen of the Valley, said in a statement on the hospital’s website. The statement did not identify the patients by name, but Obenchain spoke Wednesday with KING5.
“When I found out, I just thought back ‘well you know I haven’t shown any symptoms yet, so I’m still doing good,’ so I’m not going to complain,” Obenchain told KING5.
Queen of the Valley is also working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Napa County Public Health “to ensure the safety and well-being of our caregivers, patients and visitors,”
“Our hospital is equipped to handle the virus,” Herold said. “Our caregivers are well prepared; they have received training, have practiced for these scenarios and are wearing protective equipment to minimize their risk of exposure.
“No hospital operations are impacted.”
Obenchain is the second Washingtonian confirmed to have COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. A 35-year-old Snohomish County man was diagnosed a month ago after returning from a trip to visit family in Wuhan, China. The unnamed man was the first case of coronavirus to be confirmed in the United States. He spent several weeks in an isolation unit at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett before being sent home, where he lives alone.
The United States, Australia, Canada and South Korea flew some passengers from the cruise ship home on chartered planes and quarantined them for two weeks, some on military bases. Obenchain was among hundreds of Americans evacuated by the U.S. government after the Department of Health and Human Services declared Sunday that “passengers and crew members on board are at high risk of exposure.”
In Japan, 443 passengers were allowed to disembark Wednesday after a two-week quarantine aboard the ship. All had tested negative for the virus, according to the Japanese government. But their release caused alarm among some public-health experts, particularly as 79 new coronavirus cases on the ship were announced Wednesday, bringing the total to 621.
The ship had been carrying a total of 3,700 passengers and crew members.
Information from The New York Times is included in this report.