Cruise ship is held off California coast for virus testing

Scrambling to keep the coronavirus at bay, officials ordered a cruise ship to hold off the California coast Thursday to await testing of those aboard, after a passenger on an earlier voyage died and at least one other became infected.

A Coast Guard helicopter was expected to deliver test kits to the Grand Princess once it reached the waters off San Francisco later in the day. Princess Cruises did not immediately disclose how many people were aboard the vessel — which has a capacity of 3,650 passengers and crew — but said fewer than 100 had been identified for testing.

“The ship will not come on shore until we appropriately assess the passengers,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

On Wednesday, Newsom declared a state of emergency over the virus, opening the way for federal aid, after the death of a man in Placer County, near Sacramento, who had been on an earlier sailing of the ship in February.

It was the nation’s first coronavirus death outside of Washington state and brought the U.S. death toll to 11, with most of the victims from a suburban Seattle nursing home.

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