Coronavirus: 'Right move' to keep Princess cruise ship from docking in San Francisco, former FEMA official says

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The CDC is planning with federal, state and local officials in San Francisco on what to do with passengers on board the Grand Princess Voyage cruise ship. On the ship's first leg, three people tested positive. On the ship's second leg, 11 passengers and 10 crew members are symptomatic. The ship was set to dock in San Francisco on Thursday.

Former FEMA Senior Official, Mark Neveau, said the plan to keep the ship offshore and fly test kits to passengers is the right move.

"There's an inconvenience, no question, but it's a strong, bold correct move to protect them, as well as the disease spreading throughout the seventh-largest economy in the world," Neveau said.

RELATED: Coronavirus concerns: Princess cruise ship heading to San Francisco held off coast while passengers get tested

Neveau has decades of public safety experience, he worked as a San Francisco Bay Area Fire Department Battalion Chief and Federal Coordinating Officer with FEMA. Neveau said what's happening to this cruise ship and these passengers is unprecedented.

"We've got a cruise ship with thousands of people out on the water waiting to get tested, before they can disembark all these people- that's unprecedented. They need to make a determination, what are we going to do with folks? Those who are actually exposed and are a-symptomatic- not showing any signs, or those that definitely have the illness- do we transport them or do we send them home?" Neveau said.

ABC7 News asked Neveau, are San Francisco officials ready for this type of situation.

"I think they'll have enough time to prepare, given the testing and the communications - and they're already having those discussions, they're having conference calls. The governor declaring a state of emergency today, is part of listening to local officials on what the needs are and how to move forward," Neveau said.

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Brisbane resident Meg Ankenbruck met up with her coworkers at Pier 23 Cafe Restaurant and Bar. She said they work in the service industry and are already feeling an economic impact.

"We're meeting tonight and we're all in catering and you know we're losing business right now," Ankenbruck said.

She also feels that keeping the cruise ship offshore is in the best interest of everyone.

"I think that's wonderful, we've got to be reactive and have to take care of our people so, keep it offshore," Ankenbruck said.

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