UPDATE: Coronavirus test comes back negative

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LIVE BLOG: The latest updates on the coronavirus

UPDATE | City officials announced at about 10 p.m. Saturday that the coronavirus test for the passenger who was taken to a local hospital from a Carnival cruise ship came back negative.

“The City of Long Beach remains vigilant in promoting and enhancing preparedness efforts in coordination with local, state and federal officials,” officials said. “At this time, there are zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city of Long Beach.”

PREVIOUSLY: Cruise passengers told to stay onboard ship as coronavirus test is processed

7:50 p.m. | Passengers awaiting debarkation were notified that they would be held on the ship overnight because cruise officials were still awaiting the coronavirus test results from the CDC for the passenger removed earlier that morning.

Passengers were originally told they could expect the results by 6 p.m.

Meanwhile, the city and the Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau city have been racing all day to arrange local hotel rooms for the thousands more who couldn’t board their cruise today, according to a city official with knowledge of the situation.

PREVIOUSLY: CDC halts cruise ship disembarking while passenger is tested for coronavirus

1:30 p.m. | The Carnival Panorama cruise ship docked in Long Beach is keeping passengers on board after a guest was transported off the ship this morning to be tested for the coronavirus “out of an abundance of caution,” authorities said.

The passenger, described only as a female, was transported by Long Beach paramedics to a local hospital and is being tested for COVID-19, according to Kate Kuykendall, a spokesperson for the city’s joint information center.

She emphasized that as of now, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Long Beach or on the cruise ship, but the Centers for Disease Control made the decision to hold passengers on ship pending results of the test.

“We want to make sure that residents know that we care about our residents and visitors and those who live and work in the city of Long Beach,” she said. “Our primary concern is for all the parties involved and maintaining the safety of the public.”

The test is being expedited, Kuykendall said.

The ship holds roughly 4,000 passengers, but it is unclear exactly how many passengers are on board. The Panorama takes passengers on week-long voyages stopping in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. A spokesperson for the cruise line could not be reached.

Passengers planning to board the ship for Saturday departure said they began getting messages from Carnival at about 11 this morning telling them to arrive an hour later. Later, they were notified that a $15 lunch credit had been applied to their accounts. They were then told the issue was a pending medical test and that the results would be available after 6 p.m.

Faced with an hours-long wait before boarding, some passengers availed themselves of a free shuttle ride to Downtown Long Beach to get some food and kill time. Photo by Valerie Osier.

A long line stretched from a single food truck parked near the terminal and there was a two-hour wait at the restaurant on the Queen Mary, according to one passenger. Some called UberEats and other food delivery services and several people waited to board Long Beach Transit’s free shuttle to Downtown to kill some time. Scattered groups used the delay to relax in the sun while children played on the grass outside the terminal where passengers waited with piles of luggage.

Sherrie Trisdale, who flew out from Nashville, said she was glad the cruise line was being careful. “There’s nothing we can do about it, it’s better know that they’re taking great precautions rather than not,” she said. “I worried more about catching the flu on the boat than catching coronavirus.”

Meanwhile, news about the specter of coronavirus aboard the ship was sparse.

“The guest in question does not meet CDC criteria for coronavirus risk, but officials still have questions,” said Cruise Director Matt Mitchum in a Facebook post. “Our shoreside medical team is in direct contact with authorities and we hope to debark shortly.”

Mitchum did not say what the medical issue was and said that the crew is trying to keep passengers informed and comfortable.

The Carnival Panorama is a brand new ship that first set sail in December. It departs every Saturday from Long Beach.

‘We’re being very proactive’: Long Beach health officials give briefing on coronavirus

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Valerie Osier is a breaking news and crime reporter for the Long Beach Post. She’s a Riverside native who found her love for journalism while at community college. She graduated from Cal State University, Long Beach journalism program in 2017 and covered the Palos Verdes Peninsula for the Daily Breeze prior to coming to the Post. She lives in Long Beach with her husband, Steven, and her cat/child, Jones.
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