The latest alarming twist in the 'Grand Princess' saga is that the 71-year-old former passenger who died in California's Placer County may have already been infected with the virus when he boarded, meaning that the virus may have been circulating in northern California as early as late January.
It's certainly a disturbing discovery as officials in California and Washington State have stumbled upon an alarming rash of potentially infected individuals many of whom have been unable to secure a test, even though federal officials said Saturday that tests are being shipped.
Though, as USA Today points out, this is only a theory at this point; investigators stressed that nothing has been confirmed. That would also seriously undermine the Trump Administration's response, as President Trump has at times seemed dismissive of the threat posed by the virus, something that Democrats are already exploiting for political points, even as the administration is "catching up" - in the words of former FDA director Dr. Scott Gottlieb.
However, "if true, it could mean there was so-called community spread of the virus in California earlier than authorities have previously disclosed," one official said.
During a conference call with reporters on Saturday evening, Carnival Corp Chief Medical Officer Grant Tarling said the man boarded the ship in San Francisco on Feb. 11, when it set sail for Mexico.
Tarling said the man sought medical treatment from the ship's medical center on Feb. 20, when he reported symptoms of an "acute respiratory illness" for about a week.
Since the virus has an incubation of roughly five to six days for the first symptoms to emerge, it's reasonable to suspect that he picked it up before boarding, meaning it was likely acquired in Cali then brought on board the ship.
"We believe this case was community acquired in California and brought on the ship," Tarling said.
Interestingly, Placer County health officials are disputing the company's claim: They're insisting he probably picked up the virus aboard the cruise.
"The Placer County health officer, however, disputed Tarling’s statement and said the passenger probably contracted the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease while on the cruise."
Is this just the latest example of authorities refusing to accept the true gravity of the situation?