Americans evacuated from a quarantined cruise ship get stuck on buses with no bathrooms and fly 10 hours in cargo planes

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Karey Maniscalco was among more than 300 American passengers who were evacuated from the novel coronavirus-struck Diamond Princess ship in Japan.

Posted: Feb 19, 2020 12:15 PM
Updated: Feb 19, 2020 12:15 PM

This holiday from hell just doesn't end.

More than 300 Americans quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship for almost two weeks finally headed home Sunday night. But their journey back to the US felt like trading one ordeal for another.

"They have sent over a dozen emails assuring us that there would not be an additional quarantine, and they just told us that we'd be re-quarantined for 14 more days," said a sobbing Karey Maniscalco.

"I've just lost a whole month of my life."

Others, like Gay Courter from Florida, were grateful to the US government.

"I want to go somewhere where I feel safe, and that is under American jurisdiction," she said. "I just want to thank President Trump and the US government. ... There has been a lot of silence, but now we realize silence has been putting together a very good plan."

More than 3,600 passengers have been stuck on the cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan, since February 4.

Since then, at least 456 people on the Diamond Princess tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 1,700 people and infected more than 71,000 others worldwide.

CNN got an exclusive look at the journey from the ship to a convoy of buses to US government chartered flights that took more than 300 Americans to military bases in California and Texas.

As they prepared to board the two planes, an official from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told them not to expect a normal flight.

"This is a converted cargo 747," the official said, wearing full protective gear. "So there is less insulation than a regular passenger jet. So bring extra layers to stay warm."

Before they boarded the planes, the passengers sat for hours on buses, with no access to bathrooms. A health worker at the front of a bus was covered head to toe in protective medical gear, just like everyone else who comes in contact with quarantined passengers.

"We're just waiting. I don't really know what we're waiting for," Maniscalco said from behind her face mask on the bus.

Finally, they were allowed off the buses and onto the tarmac at Tokyo's Haneda Airport. Exhausted cheers erupted.

Once on board the aircraft, they sat in temporary seats with makeshift bathrooms and no passenger windows.

"First class, baby," one woman joked.

The flights carried 14 passengers who tested positive for coronavirus but weren't showing symptoms.

US health officials apparently learned of the positive test results after those passengers boarded the buses and made a last-minute decision allowing them to board the flights.

The infected passengers were put in a specialized containment area on the flights, isolating them from the rest of the passengers.

But Maniscalco said she still worried about her health.

"It's not good conditions," she said on the plane, still wearing her face mask.

"No one on here has had their temperature taken by the federal government, or any government for that matter. So we're all sitting in really close, tight quarters. Everyone's sitting next to each other. I have a girl sitting here in just a minute. It seems dangerous."

After she landed, Maniscalco had a more optimistic view of the situation.

"Every single person we encountered was the most kind and thoughtful person," she said.

"They knew we were ornery and scared, and they did everything in their power to make us feel at ease. They kept saying that they knew we've been through a great ordeal and how stressed out we were, and now we are safe."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 16041

Reported Deaths: 767
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds103526
Lauderdale74568
Madison74525
Neshoba70742
Jones66331
Scott66112
Forrest59439
DeSoto5538
Leake44712
Rankin4468
Holmes43928
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Jackson30813
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Lowndes2309
Wayne2242
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Pike20411
Adams20015
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Washington1917
Warren18110
Covington1732
Jasper1654
Lee1657
Bolivar16511
Clarke15419
Smith15311
Kemper14711
Lafayette1414
Chickasaw13714
Coahoma1274
Winston1211
Marion1179
Carroll11711
Clay1154
Claiborne1122
Lawrence1061
Simpson1020
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Tate951
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Humphreys597
Tunica563
Prentiss563
Perry513
Choctaw482
Pontotoc433
Jefferson431
Tishomingo340
Quitman340
Stone310
Franklin292
Tallahatchie291
George261
Greene221
Alcorn181
Benton140
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 18474

Reported Deaths: 651
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2283118
Jefferson1882103
Montgomery180243
Tuscaloosa81616
Marshall7059
Franklin5768
Lee55234
Shelby52220
Tallapoosa43166
Butler41618
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Morgan2971
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Dallas2823
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DeKalb2563
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Sumter2267
Houston2235
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Hale1789
Russell1770
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Lauderdale1672
Calhoun1653
Choctaw15310
Wilcox1527
Cullman1501
Clarke1482
St. Clair1311
Randolph1287
Marion12411
Dale1230
Pickens1215
Talladega1175
Limestone1080
Chilton1041
Greene954
Winston910
Macon864
Jackson833
Henry812
Covington811
Crenshaw783
Bibb761
Escambia743
Washington726
Blount631
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Perry420
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