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

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.

Cases: 250869

Reported Deaths: 5481
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17010171
Hinds16091318
Harrison13250193
Rankin10629208
Jackson10216182
Lee8759141
Madison8186161
Jones6222109
Forrest5917118
Lauderdale5808180
Lowndes5309111
Lafayette491192
Lamar480465
Washington4770123
Bolivar3955106
Oktibbeha390380
Panola365076
Pontotoc361152
Monroe3521104
Warren344597
Union341458
Marshall339165
Neshoba3357152
Pearl River323295
Leflore2992105
Lincoln295685
Sunflower280469
Tate269560
Alcorn262653
Itawamba261159
Hancock260458
Pike259977
Scott244745
Prentiss244052
Yazoo242654
Tippah239749
Copiah239149
Simpson233967
Leake229564
Coahoma228554
Grenada217070
Covington210471
Marion208371
Adams203270
Winston199464
Wayne198730
George197938
Attala193158
Newton189142
Chickasaw182944
Tishomingo182159
Holmes168167
Jasper167735
Clay158233
Stone141520
Tallahatchie139234
Clarke137460
Calhoun135121
Smith119423
Yalobusha116134
Walthall111736
Noxubee110222
Greene109129
Montgomery109134
Carroll104121
Lawrence102117
Perry100531
Amite96825
Webster91924
Tunica86021
Claiborne85525
Jefferson Davis84025
Humphreys82624
Benton81023
Kemper76620
Quitman6838
Franklin65815
Choctaw60013
Wilkinson58325
Jefferson53419
Sharkey42417
Issaquena1596
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 420681

Reported Deaths: 6119
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson61755921
Mobile30058548
Madison26852186
Tuscaloosa20652266
Montgomery18876305
Shelby18421114
Baldwin16176182
Lee12393101
Morgan12175113
Etowah11687168
Calhoun11078200
Marshall10158107
Houston8556148
Cullman7999105
Limestone796274
Elmore7783101
DeKalb767197
Lauderdale752883
St. Clair7502120
Talladega6145108
Walker5880174
Jackson578841
Colbert529873
Blount529283
Autauga515455
Coffee438156
Dale394381
Franklin365248
Chilton335365
Covington326968
Russell326810
Escambia316142
Dallas302896
Chambers281869
Clarke279633
Tallapoosa2607107
Pike247629
Marion244650
Lawrence242547
Winston225535
Bibb214447
Geneva199535
Marengo197829
Pickens196231
Hale175442
Barbour172336
Butler168458
Fayette167126
Cherokee160030
Henry152721
Monroe145017
Randolph138835
Washington137026
Clay126145
Crenshaw118644
Lamar117519
Cleburne117223
Macon114335
Lowndes109535
Wilcox102621
Bullock98728
Perry96919
Conecuh94220
Sumter88826
Greene75723
Coosa60515
Choctaw51224
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