Citrus County couple back in U.S. after coronavirus outbreak on cruise ship

Coronavirus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Hundreds of American passengers who were stuck aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship are back in the United States at two Air Force bases.

More than 300 Americans, including a Bay Area couple, evacuated the cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan Sunday after spending almost two weeks in quarantine.

“I just want to thank President Trump and the U.S. government,” Gay Courter from Citrus County said before disembarking the cruise ship. “There’s been a lot of silence on this and now we know the silence has been putting together a brilliant plan.”

8 On Your Side has been following the story of Gay and her husband Phil since they sounded the alarm a week ago about the spread of the virus on their cruise ship.

“We’re happy to go home in a quarantined condition,” Gay said.

The two U.S. Department of State chartered flights were supposed to be coronavirus free, but officials revealed 14 passengers tested positive and traveled in isolation chambers.

“We all did what we could do to protect each other,” Phil Courter said in a statement sent to 8 On Your Side. “We wore masks, we used sanitizer, and when we slept, we turned our heads to our partners instead of our neighbors.”

Gay, 75, is a best-selling novelist. Her husband, Phil, 77, is an award-winning documentary filmmaker. The two are ready to come back to the Bay Area home, but they are now in a 14-day quarantine period at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio.

“Although we wish we could be home with our friends and family, we understand that we may have been infected,” Gay Courter said in a statement. “The burden of proof is on health officials to show that we can be safely released.”

As of Monday, there were 454 confirmed cases of coronavirus on the Princess Diamond cruise ship. Since the outbreak, passengers have been in a quarantine that’s expected to continue until Wednesday.

Other evacuated America passengers will spend two weeks of quarantine at Travis Air Force Base near Sacramento, California.

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