Quarantined York County couple hoping long journey ends early next week
A Warrington Township couple who have been quarantined most of the month after being exposed to the coronavirus have their fingers crossed they will be cleared to return home soon.
Barring any last-minute setbacks in testing, Bill and Colette Smedley are expected to be back in York County early next week.
“We’re optimistic,” Bill Smedley said Thursday morning by telephone from Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. “We’re praying, and all of our friends are praying that we’re going to get out of here early next week.”
The Smedleys were among more than 300 Americans evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in the Japanese port of Yokohama and flown back to U.S. military bases Feb. 17.
They have been quarantined since in San Antonio since, and their mandated 14 days are set to expire early Monday morning. They previously were quarantined for 10 days on the cruise ship.
More than 80,000 people worldwide in 40 countries have been infected with the coronavirus, which emerged in December. The virus has killed more than 2,700 people so far, with the majority of deaths in China.
There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19, or novel coronavirus, in Pennsylvania, but the state Department of Health is monitoring residents who have recently returned from China, Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said at a news conference Wednesday.
The United States has 60 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
“As excited as my wife and I are to get out of here, we’re also realistic enough to know that a test for a high fever anytime in the next few days would start the process all over again for either one of us,” said Bill Smedley, 66.
“We've both been good so far, we’ve been under quarantine a long time with no symptoms, and only need a few more good tests to be cleared to go.”
The retired couple were attempting to get away from the Pennsylvania winter when they embarked on their cruise on Jan. 6.
The Smedleys 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.
They were supposed to disembark Feb. 3, but someone tested positive for the coronavirus in Japan, and they were placed under quarantine for the first time.
Bill Smedley said he and his wife are anxious to get home and end their long journey. He said Diamond Princess is handling all flights and it is unclear if that likely will be Monday night or Tuesday.
“It will be nice to get back (to York County) and just sit around the house again and just be normal with my family,” he said. “And then my 15 minutes of fame will be over.”
— Ron Musselman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @ronmusselman8.