KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A woman who grew up in Kansas City and her husband recently tested positive for coronavirus after taking a cruise last month.
Shelly and Charles Conlon were among the Americans on-board the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined for two weeks in Japan in February when a passenger tested positive for the virus.
In total, 700 of the 3,700 people on the ship became infected.
“We had a balcony stateroom, so it really wasn’t that bad,” Shelly said. “It was more of an inconvenience, but for the people that inside staterooms with no windows, it became a problem because they couldn’t get out of their rooms.”
The Americans on the ship were brought back to the United States on Feb. 16 and were sent to Air Force bases in Texas and California.
“When you had so many people who were exposed to it in that environment, I didn’t understand why they did not test everybody” Shelly said about the CDC’s handling of the situation. “I asked the question and never got an answer.”
She and her husband volunteered to be tested last Wednesday, and they tested positive for the virus.
“You have two swabs, a nasal swab and a throat swab,” she explained. “Our throat swabs keep coming back negative every time, but it’s the nasal swab that keeps coming back positive.”
The retired couple is now in isolation at the Texas Center for Infectious Diseases in San Antonio. Shelly said their pressurized room is 10-by-15-foot, and they’re only allowed to go outside, in a confined space, for 20 minutes a day.
Shelly said it’s painful being in isolation.
“You have no freedoms, and when you lose your freedoms, that’s it,” she said. “For those of us like my husband and I who exercise a lot, we’re struggling because we’re used to walking 5-6 miles a day.”
The couple, both in their 60s, said their asymptomatic, meaning they haven’t had symptoms associated with the virus since being on the ship.
They feel the quarantine they’re under is extreme for their situation.
“To me, this is a situation for people who are really sick. They need help,” Shelly said. “They need to be isolated from other people. I get that. But there needs almost like a modified isolation when we’re asymptomatic.”
Shelly said if she had to find a silver lining it would be the doctors and nurses taking care of them.
“They are true heroes because these people volunteer,” she said. “They’re the kindest, most supportive, positive people you could have. They make this acceptable.”
The Conlons won’t be released until they have two consecutive negative results on both swabs. Until then, they will remain in isolation.
While Shelly is a Kansas City native, she and her husband now call Phoenix, Arizona home. However, they still have relatives in the metro and visit regularly.