By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

Sheridan city manager, wife aboard cruise ship

Submitted photo##The Grand Princess cruise ship, on which passengers were kept due to concerns over coronavirus.
Submitted photo##The Grand Princess cruise ship, on which passengers were kept due to concerns over coronavirus.

Sheridan City Manager Frank Sheridan and his wife, Rhoda, were aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship that idled off the coast of San Francisco with at least 21 people infected with coronavirus before it docked Monday afternoon at the Port of Oakland.

The Grand Princess had been sailing in circles off the coast since late last week after a passenger from a recent trip died from COVID-19 in Placer County, California. The ship’s 3,533 passengers and staff have been isolated in their cabins since late last week.

“We have docked in Oakland,” Sheridan told the News-Register during a telephone interview shortly before 1:30 p.m. Monday. “In the next two days, we’ll be getting off the ship and taken someplace, to an Army or Marine base in the U.S. We don’t know yet.”

While on the ship, the Sheridans and other passengers are confined to their quarters. The Sheridan’s state room is “quite small,” he said, about 13-by-10 feet with a double bed, desk, mini fridge, television and bathroom.

Not a lot of information has been provided regarding what the passengers can expect in the days to come.

“We’re learning more from watching FOX news and MSNBC than from anyone on the ship,” Sheridan said.

He said he and his wife are showing no signs of infection. “We’re doing fine.”

The Port of Oakland was chosen for docking because of its proximity to an airport and a military base. U.S. passengers will be transported to military bases in California, Texas and Georgia, where they’ll be tested for the coronavirus and quarantined for two weeks.

Fences were installed at an 11-acre port site as authorities readied flights and buses to whisk the passengers aboard the ship to destinations for the 14-day quarantine. Passengers and staff are from 54 countries, according to Princess Cruise Lines.

When the 2,422 passengers get off the ship, a small number will go to hospitals for urgent care.

It will likely take days to accomplish the complicated task of getting passengers off the ship, NPR’s Eric Westervelt reported.

“Californians are going to be taken to one of two military bases, one north, one south,” he said. “Depending on where they’re from, other U.S. citizens are going to be taken to bases in Georgia and Texas.

“And then there are hundreds of foreign passengers. The State Department’s helping to get chartered flights for them. Canada’s sending a plane to collect 200 of its citizens.”

The Sheridans first flew from Portland to San Francisco, boarded the ship and departed Friday, Feb. 21 for Hawaii, according to City Recorder Yvonne Hamilton. Once there, they cruised the islands before beginning the return trip.

Sheridan has been in touch with city officials, including Mayor Harry Cooley, by text message, Hamilton said.

Now that the ship has docked, it should be easier for city staff and other officials to communicate with him, including by phone.

Hamilton said Sheridan told her that he and his wife have been in good spirits.

“He said he’s more likely to die of boredom than the virus,” she said. “Typical Frank. He’s got some humor left in him.”

Despite Sheridan’s absence, it’s business as usual at city hall, Cooley said. “We got together this morning and talked about this. Everyone is doing what they are scheduled to do.”

Cooley said as soon as the city learns where the Sheridans will be quarantined, they will ship him a laptop computer to him so he can access his personal work account and advise the staff on city business.

“He can work from where he is at, once he gets there,” Cooley said.

As for the ship’s 1,111-member crew, nearly all will remain on board and sail back out of San Francisco Bay. 

 The Associated Press contributed to this report. 


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