Warrington Twp. couple off cruise ship but still quarantined over coronavirus

Ron Musselman
York Dispatch
Bill Smedley and his wife are currently being quarantined at Lackland Air Force Base.

A Warrington Township couple have returned to the United States, but they are still a long way from their home in York County.

Bill Smedley and his wife, Colette, are being quarantined for a 14-day period at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas after being exposed to the coronavirus.

They previously spent 10 days quarantined with 3,700 passengers and crew members on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in the Japanese port of Yokohama.

Smedley said Wednesday he and his wife are hopeful of returning home sometime in early March.

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“The frustration part of it is over now,” he said in a telephone interview. “We know we’re here in Texas sitting in a little one-bedroom cubicle in a fenced-in area. We can’t go anywhere for a bit. Thank goodness we have a lot of strong support from family and the people around us.

“I’ve been through a lot worse. I am a cancer survivor. That was way worse to deal with than this."  

The Smedleys, who are retired, were among more than 300 Americans evacuated from the cruise ship and flown back to U.S. military bases last weekend. Fourteen of those tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, according to government officials.

A total of 624 confirmed cases of the virus have been linked to the cruise ship overall, Diamond Princess President Jan Swartz said Wednesday. About 500 passengers left the ship Wednesday in Yokohama.

The novel coronavirus has killed more than 2,000 people, all but six of them in mainland China.

Colette Smedley and her husband flew back to the United States last weekend.

Bill Smedley, 66, said he and his wife were tested for coronavirus before they left Japan but haven’t gotten the results yet.

“There has been no indicator we have it, but it’s better to be safe than sorry,” he said.

Smedley, whose son and daughter graduated from Northern York High School, said he and his wife were attempting to get away from the Pennsylvania winter when they embarked on their cruise early last month.

They visited Japan, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Taiwan as part of their vacation, which has included celebrations for their 33rd wedding anniversary and Colette’s 65th birthday.

“We got on the ship Jan. 6, and we were supposed to get off Feb. 3, but we couldn’t because someone tested positive for the virus,” Bill Smedley said. “The cruise ship company did everything they could do. Now we’re onto this part of it. This is our third day in quarantine in Texas.

“My wife and I, we love each other. We get along great. But after 45 or 50 days trapped in a 10-by-20 room, we need some space.

“It will be great to get home again, whenever that may be.”

— Ron Musselman can be reached at rmusselman@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @ronmusselman8.