IRVING, Texas (KETK/NBC) – Newlyweds Rachel and Tyler Torres have been among more than 400 Americans stuck at sea on the Diamond Princess cruise ship since early February, according to our affiliate station NBC-DFW.
For nearly two weeks, the couple has been confined to a stateroom while in quarantine on the coronavirus-infected ship.
Just a few days shy of the quarantine period, they received news they’d be released. The U.S. Embassy sent an email letting many know they’d be evacuated. But instead of heading home, they would be dropped off at a military base in either California or Texas where they will begin a second 14-day quarantine.
The email read in part:
“This is a dynamic situation. We are deeply grateful to the cruise line and government of Japan for working diligently to contain and control the spread of the illness. However, to fulfill our government’s responsibilities to U.S. citizens under our rules and practices, as well as to reduce the burden on the Japanese healthcare system, the U.S. government recommends, out of an abundance of caution, that U.S. citizens disembark and return to the United States for further monitoring…
Travelers returning to the United States from high-risk areas are required to undergo quarantine. Accordingly, you will need to undergo further quarantine of 14 days when you arrive in the United States. We understand this is frustrating and an adjustment, but these measures are consistent with the careful policies we have instituted to limit the potential spread of the disease. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation and will provide all the assistance we can to support the quarantine process. Should you choose not to return on this charter flight, you will be unable to return to the United State for a period of time.”
“We’re feeling a little disheartened,” Tyler Torres told NBC-DFW.
He said they wish the evacuation had come sooner so that the two additional weeks of quarantine would not have been such a long continuation of the first.
But the couple said they believe it may have been a response to another 67 passengers aboard the Diamond Princess testing positive for Coronavirus, bringing the total infected to 285.
While Tyler and Rachel remain fever-free, they and other Americans were tested as they boarded one of the two flights home.
Still, Tyler said he worries that won’t do enough to stop the possible spread of infection.
“When we get on this flight, they’re testing us, but we won’t have any results. So we might be on this flight, close quarters with someone who’s infected,” he told NBC-DFW.
Though Rachel said she took the announcement hard, the couple remains positive.
They said they planned to use the additional time to start a book about their honeymoon turned sour.
“We can only imagine what they’re going through and how they must be feeling right now. We’re concerned about them, but they seem to be okay for now,” Rachel Torres told NBC-DFW.
The couple requested to be sent to Lackland Air Force Base, so they could be closer to home. Though from what they say, there’s no guarantee that will be the case.