Carl Goldman was a passenger on a coronavirus cruise, and he explains what it’s like to have the deadly disease and the symptoms that he is dealing with.
Goldman chronicled his experience of being quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that had 620 cases of COVID-19 to being transported from Japan back to the United States in a military cargo plane then being isolated in a biocontainment unit in Nebraska. Goldman, who is the owner of a radio station, posted his experience on the the KHTS station’s website.
Goldman and his wife, Jeri Seratti-Goldman, went on a 16-day Southeast Asia cruise, their Christmas present to each other. The couple from Santa Clarita, California, boarded the Diamond Princess cruise ship on January 17. Then on the last day of the cruise, the ship’s captain told the passengers that one guest was diagnosed with coronavirus and had been taken to a hospital in Hong Kong.
The passengers were tested for fevers, which took Japanese health officials 18 hours to check all 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew. Passengers were quarantined to their rooms as the ship waited to get permission to dock and disembark.
“It was day one of our quarantine. We had free reign of our ship,” the 67-year-old wrote. “Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were served in the usual stellar Princess fashion.”
“We woke up the next morning with an announcement,” Goldman continues. “The lab results from Tokyo showed ten people tested positive for the coronavirus. The Japanese health officials would remain on the ship. We were to stay in our cabins, in quarantine for 14 days.”
On the third day of the quarantine, the media found out about the coronavirus cruise ship, and helicopters circled above, and reporters were gathered at the Yokohama port. The couple spent their time by reading books, watching TV, and performing comedy routines for each other.
“By mid-morning many more ambulances arrived than the day before, with dozens of people in white hazmat uniforms descending towards our ship,” he said of his fourth day of quarantine. “We soon learned there were 41 additional people being taken to hospitals, who had tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the total to 61 plus the original Hong Kong passenger.”
The couple, along with 326 Americans were flown in U.S. military cargo planes back to the United States from Japan on February 16.
“Medical personnel wearing hazmat gear were on-board. They were checking our temperatures throughout our flight,” Goldman wrote. “A section of seats was quarantined from the rest of us. Large sheets of plastic hung from the ceiling.”
Goldman was taken to the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, where the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established a coronavirus quarantine. This is the same hospital that was used to quarantine people who had ebola. Goldman was brought to the lower-level housing at the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit.
Nurses took blood and saliva samples from Carl, and performed various tests on him. The results from the tests came back, and Carl had tested positive for COVID-19.
“The news didn’t hit me very hard. I suspected I had the virus when my fever took off on the plane. That was over 24 hours ago,” Carl said. “I was glad I was in a hospital in Omaha and not still stuck in Japan. Aside from the great care, I wouldn’t be needing a Google translator.”
“I woke up and suddenly had a 103-degree fever, which lasted about 12-14 hours,” Goldman said of his condition the day after flying. “It comes out of nowhere. You’re feeling fine and all of the sudden, you’ve got a 103 fever.”
Goldman said he had symptoms of “a small, dry cough” but no congestion, no runny or stuffy nose, no body aches, or chills. He considered the virus to be a mild cold.
“What’s weird about this virus is a lot of the symptoms are like a mild cold for me, without any of the drippy nose, no sneezing, no body aches,” Goldman told Vox. “It was simply a very, very high fever that spiked for about 10 hours, disappeared, came back as a low-grade fever about two days later.”
Goldman’s wife, who was in a different room in the hospital, tested negative for the deadly virus, but she would still remain in quarantine for 14 days.
“Despite all the monitors attached to me, there is no medication being given. My only medication is (drum roll, please) Gatorade,” Goldman said. “This virus is so unknown, there is no cure except to allow it to work its way through my system. There are no antibiotics, no IVs, not even nose drops, just Gatorade.”
“I’ve been through every color of the rainbow with Gatorade,” he said. “The light blue is the bomb.” Besides Gatorade, Carl was given Ibuprofen by his nurses.
“I am feeling better as I recover from my coronavirus,” Goldman wrote. “I no longer have a fever. My version of the virus is much milder. I am quarantined in the epicenter of the best care in the world in the biocontainment wing of Nebraska Med in Omaha.”
“Government regulations require each patient to be notified every 72 hours that we are quarantined,” Goldman explained. “A six-page, single-spaced small-font document was slipped through my door informing me of such. Only the feds could create something as unnecessary as this. I saved my documents for future reading, perhaps for a night with challenges falling asleep.”
“My CDC doctor informed me when I no longer showed any signs of the novel corona virus, COVID-19, I would be tested again,” he said. “If at that time I tested negative, I would be tested 24 hours later. Two negative tests would buy me my freedom. I would no longer be contagious, nor would I be a threat to spread the virus.”
“They have a lab on site, so results take hours, not days,” Carl said of the testing process. “Along with a swab going far into the back of my throat, a swab is yanked deep up my nose. One for each nostril. It is not a fun process. When my wife was tested, her swab went so far up her nostrils, it made her eyes twitch for many hours.”
Jeri Seratti-Goldman was released on March 3, after completing her second 14-day quarantine. This week, Goldman said he “tested negative in my throat, positive in my nostrils. Now I am back to testing positive in both my nostrils and throat. I get to wait until Friday to be tested again. I need three negative tests in both my throat and nostrils, 24 hours apart, to get my freedom.” The CDC changed protocols from two negative COVID-19 tests to three consecutive negative tests for patients to be released.
Goldman said the Japanese government should have taken the passengers off the Diamond Princess cruise ship as soon as they knew that there were coronavirus cases on the vessel instead of letting the respiratory disease spread on the ship and become a “floating petri dish.” He added that the U.S. government should have flown the infected American passengers back to the United States within one or two days. Goldman said he was impressed with the CDC’s response and the staff at the Nebraska Medical Center.
You can read all of Carl Goldman’s journals of his experience with the coronavirus over at Home Town Station.