Wisconsinites Return Home from Cruise

The Wisconsin National Guard brought home 29 passengers from a Princess Cruise line.

By Frederica Freyberg

March 16, 2020

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Wisconsin National Guard plane

Travelers from a Princess Cruise line return to Wisconsin in the early hours of March 16, 2020. (Courtesy: Wis. Dept. of Military Affairs)

Wisconsin National Guard members early Monday morning brought home 29 passengers who were on board the Grand Princess cruise ship docked at the Port of Oakland in California.

Their plane landed at the National Guard’s Volk Field in Camp Douglas. Just before 4:30 a.m., members of the guard drove the passengers to their homes in state vans, according to the governor’s office.

State officials said none of the returning Wisconsin citizens tested positive for COVID-19. They will be self-quarantined for 14 days. Two passengers on the ship chose to remain in quarantine in Texas. State officials are trying to return seven other Wisconsin passengers who remain in U.S. Department of Health and Human Services custody in California.

“We’re glad to finally have our folks back home in Wisconsin,” Gov. Tony Evers said.

The Wisconsin passengers were greeted by Adjutant General Paul Knapp and received a welcome-home packet including a letter from the governor, quarantine information and instructions on how to contact their local health department or the state health department.

“These individuals have gone through a harrowing experience full of uncertainty and fear over the past several weeks. But as I’ve said repeatedly, here in Wisconsin, we take care of one another,” Evers said. 

“I am incredibly grateful to Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services, the Wisconsin National Guard, and our entire state government for the hard work they’ve put in to ensure we bring our people home safely and ensure the safety of our communities,” he added.

More than 3,500 people were on board the Grand Princess cruise ship, which had 21 total cases of COVID-19, according to the governor’s office.

The Wisconsin passenger’s return comes as the state registers increasing numbers of positive test results, a new phase of the outbreak, according to Ryan Westergaard, state epidemiologist for communicable diseases for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. He said some of the new cases are people who have not traveled and it is likely COVID-19 is spreading in communities.

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