By Makenzie O'Keefe

(CBS4) – Two Coloradans are back home after they were stuck on the Grand Princess cruise ship for more than a week and quarantined for even longer.

The Grand Princess cruise ship at the Port of Oakland in California on March 9, 2020.

The Grand Princess cruise ship at the Port of Oakland in California on March 9. (credit: JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

“I never thought that when I got on that ship on Feb. 21, that when I left the ship the world would not be the world as it is,” Sherri Pe’a said.

CBS4 first interviewed Pe’a, of Aurora, and her brother-in-law Tom Gray, of Denver, in early March when they were stuck aboard the cruise ship. When at least 21 people tested positive for coronavirus, the ship essentially shut down, isolating passengers in their cabins for days, until the ship safely docked in Oakland.

“It started to hit home that something bad has happened,” Pe’a said. “When we were on the ship we knew people tested positive for COVID-19 but there was little information about what was really going on.”

A woman gestures as other people look on from aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship, operated by Princess Cruises, as it maintains a holding pattern about 25 miles off the coast of San Francisco, California on March 8, 2020. California prepared to disembark passengers from a virus-hit cruise ship as officials played down any risk to local communities. The Grand Princess, which has 21 novel coronavirus infections among the 3,500 people on board, is set to dock in Oakland Monday after four days held off the coast of nearby San Francisco.

A woman gestures from aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship on March 8. (credit: JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Once the two were taken off the ship, they were screened by a medical triage at the ship’s port.

“They just took our temperature, took our information,” Pe’a said.

(credit: Sherri Pe’a)

Pe’a and Gray were then flown to a military base in San Diego with other ship passengers for quarantine. There, they were assigned a room, delivered meals and met with case workers and nurses daily.

“Every day we knew how many people got tested, how many people were leaving the base to go back to their home state, how many people were hospitalized,” Pe’a said. “They took amazing care of us.”
Pe’a said reality began to hit when some of the friends she had made on the ship and at the military base began to feel sick.

“A person in my group was asymptomatic and tested positive for coronavirus,” Pe’a said. “And a friend I made there from Colorado tested positive with symptoms and she’s really sick.”

Sherri Pe’a poses with medical staff while in quarantine (credit: Sherri Pe’a)

Pe’a also said they were alerted about fellow passengers on board who had passed away.

“They showed us a picture,” she explained. “I knew who that person was. I had contact with that person. This is not silly stuff, that made it very real.”

While some of the ship passengers are now home like Pe’a and Gray, they hope the community can stand together to fight the virus.

“We know this is big, we lived it firsthand,” Pe’a said. “We’re going to get through this, I have a lot of faith.”

Pe’a said they are keeping in contact with other passengers through a support group online. They hope to encourage others to make healthy decisions in the coming weeks.

“People are starting to get it that this is real, so hopefully, we can flat line this pretty quickly,” Pe’a said.

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Makenzie O'Keefe

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