Irving newlyweds Rachel and Tyler Torres have been among more than 400 Americans stuck at sea on the Diamond Princess since the beginning on the month.
For nearly two weeks, they’ve been confined to a stateroom while in quarantine on the coronavirus-infected ship.
Now, just a few days shy of Feb. 19, when they were initially told they’d be released, they received an email from the U.S. Embassy letting them know they’d be evacuated. But instead of heading home, they will 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 said.
He said they wished the evacuation could’ve come sooner, so that two more weeks of isolation would not have come at the tail end of the first two.
But the couple said they believe it may be happening in response to the news that another 67 passengers aboard the Diamond Princess tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total infected to 286.
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Both Tyler and Rachel remain fever free, but they, along with the other Americans, will be tested as they board one of two chartered flights home.
Still, Tyler Torres said he worried that wouldn'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 said.
Though Rachel Torres especially said she took Saturday’s announcement hard, the couple remained positive.
They said they planned to use the additional time to work on a book they’ve started about their honeymoon turned sour.
They said they have also kept their thoughts on the families who’ve been separated as infected passengers are removed from the ship, and for the crew who will begin their own period of isolation only once the last passenger disembarks.
“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 said.
The couple requested that they be sent to Lackland Air Force Base, so they can at least be closer to home. Though they said from what they’ve been told, there’s no guarantee that will be the case.