Nevadans from Grand Princess transported to separate bases | NevadaAppeal.com
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Nevadans from Grand Princess transported to separate bases

Lack of access to meds concern Carson families

By Jessica Garcia jgarcia@nevadaappeal.com
FILE - In this Feb. 11, 2020, file photo, the Grand Princess cruise ship passes the Golden Gate Bridge as it arrives from Hawaii in San Francisco. Scrambling to keep the coronavirus at bay, officials ordered the cruise ship to hold off the California coast Thursday, March 5, to await testing of those aboard, after a passenger on an earlier voyage died and at least one other became infected. (Scott Strazzante/San Francisco Chronicle via AP, File)
AP | San Francisco Chronicle

Wayne, Leah and Adam Carlson of Carson City, passengers on the Grand Princess that long sat quarantined due to the COVID-19 virus, were more than relieved Wednesday when they learned they finally would be taken off the ship and fly back to Reno.

But it didn’t work out that way.

Wayne Carlson was transported by ambulance out of Oakland where the ship docked and was taken to an Oakland hospital, he said. Once released, he was transported to Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, Calif. His wife and son, Leah and Adam, were taken by bus to an airport and flown to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego. The family had been separated for medical reasons.

But now Wayne Carlson and his wife, Leah, face an issue others are experiencing while in isolation on the base: They lack access to the daily medication they’re supposed to be taking.

‘In rough shape’

Wayne and Leah Carlson both are in need of medications, according to family friend and coworker Carla Jackson-Wilson, director of the V&T Polar Express. Wayne Carlson is her sound technician, and she said she has known Leah Carlson since 1981.

Leah Carlson is in Miramar. Jackson-Wilson said the couple are starting to feel the effects from going without their pills.

“They’re all pretty frustrated,” Jackson-Wilson said of the family after speaking with Wayne Carlson by video chat Friday. “The biggest thing is not knowing. They sit there in the dark not knowing. He’s (Wayne) in rough shape.”

Wayne Carlson is supposed to be taking a daily dose of tamsulosin, which relaxes muscles in the prostate and the bladder. He said he experiences frequent pain and has been without his medication for about five days. Without it, he has to relieve himself every five to 10 minutes, and he was expected to fly to Reno on Friday afternoon.

Carlson, who was quarantined in his room at Travis, said he had put in calls to the local officials assisting the families on the base and requested for his medication to be filled and picked up at the local Walgreen’s in Fairfield. But no one has delivered his medication.

Jackson-Wilson said her husband, who is retired military, could deliver to them easily if he were allowed.

“It sounded like no one is really feeling like it’s that serious,” she said.

Wayne Carlson said if he were scheduled to leave Friday, he worried about boarding the plane in his condition without his pills.

He added he was grateful for the work being done at the state level to bring Nevadans home.

“We were so damn happy, and then all of a sudden the next day, my wife gets a message saying that’s not going to happen and that the governor had put the squish on that because apparently there was a plan in place to get us home, from what I understand,” he said. “We were supposed to be in self-quarantine, which I would have been more than happy to do, our whole family.”

“He’s in good spirits, and he is concerned about Leah,” Jackson-Wilson said.

Carlson spoke highly of the base itself and other accommodations.

“It’s like a hotel room here,” he said. “The military people are very nice.”

Caught off guard

Steve and Zita Waclo of Carson City were among approximately 270 Grand Princess cruise ship passengers to be transported to Miramar on Wednesday night for screening instead of returning to Reno.

Zita Waclo told the Nevada Appeal on Thursday they arrived in Miramar, where they were placed in a motel room on the base and given a paper from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stating they were a possible risk to others and would be placed in quarantine for two weeks.

She said they didn’t know until they got on the bus from Oakland on Wednesday after having left the Grand Princess ship earlier in the day that they would be transported to Miramar. She said they were expecting to come to Reno.

At about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, 42 Southern California guests were brought to the base for a 14-day quarantine period.

It was announced earlier Tuesday by the Nevada Governor’s Office and the Department of Health and Human Services that Nevada families would be brought home from the ship quarantined with 3,500 guests.

Zita Waclo said they continued to be fed breakfast and lunch as of Thursday afternoon, describing they were brought cold eggs, sandwiches and fruit. She requested coffee. She continually stated they were doing well.

“We’re safer in isolation than a lot of people out in the community,” she said.

One man on the bus in Oakland was removed prior to leaving for Miramar when it was found he had a temperature. He was sitting across the aisle from them, Zita said.

“We didn’t know other people’s names, we never met anybody else from Nevada,” she said. “We were under the impression they sent other Nevadans with us. It seemed like other Nevadans were coming with us.”

Back on Nevada soil

For the Waclos, it’s disconcerting having to experience every slight discomfort. The couple said they started feeling a dryness in their throat once they got to Miramar but thought it had to do more with going from Oakland to San Diego.

“Every time you’d get a little tickle in your throat, you’d start to panic,” Steve said.

They retain their original cautious optimism in every e-mail update to family and friends, and everyone consistently reminds them they’re eagerly awaited at home in Carson City.

“I’m sure we’ll get home in a reasonable amount of time,” Zita said Thursday from their motel room on the Miramar base. “There’s not much here, but we did find a couple of books. Both of us are well. … We’re doing fine.”

On Friday morning, Steve Waclo said he and Zita were contacted by a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services representative. They would later be notified by a swabbing team in advance of their home quarantine, he said, and their situation continues to evolve.

“We encourage everyone to consider us to be in a fundamentally safer environment that people in the general population,” Steve wrote in an e-mail Friday.

In a press conference Thursday night declaring a state of emergency to enable resources for COVID-19, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced he had been in contact with the Grand Princess operators this week about repatriating Nevadan families.

“We only have control once they reach Nevada soil,” he said. “It’s my hope to get them on Nevada soil as quickly as possible.”

Sisolak expressed frustration at the ship’s status after discovering the families were directed to Miramar on Wednesday, stating he had called and talked to about 40 to 45 Nevadans. At least one Nevadan passenger’s wife was not on the manifest, he said.

Also Thursday, according to the Times of San Diego, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a passenger at Miramar from the Grand Princess tested positive for COVID-19.