Coronavirus: Olympia Woman Tests Positive after Diamond Princess Cruise Evacuation

    “It’s a terrible thing to say oh, you’ve got the virus.”

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    Olympia resident, Marianne Obenchain, has tested positive for the new coronavirus infection, aka COVID-19.

    Japanese health officials tested her last week when the federal government evacuated American citizens from the Diamond Princess cruise ship. The government evacuated more than 100 Americans and taken them to Travis Air Force Base, California.

    Obenchain’s results came back positive and now she is in a hospital in California. She was surprised after getting the results. She said, “That news almost floored me. I wasn’t showing any symptoms.”

    She is still showing no signs or symptoms of the new virus and doctors are retesting her.

    She said she is glad to be back on U.S. soil. “The positive thing is, I’m getting Starbucks. I’m like woohoo Starbucks!” said Obenchain.

    “They’re going to keep testing until I test clear,” Obenchain added. “It’s a terrible thing to say oh, you’ve got the virus. But you know – being here in isolation at Queen of the Valley Hospital is probably the best thing that could’ve happened.”

    “Because what if I hadn’t been tested when I left the ship? They would never have known and I would’ve been shedding the virus particles all around and possibly take it back home. and I’m so thankful they found out before it got any further along,” she continued.

    Dr. Peter Rabinowitz from the University of Washington said people who have interacted with Obenchain on the ship should also be monitored with extra caution.

    Dr. Rabinowitz, who is the Co-Director for UW MetaCenter for Pandemic Disease Preparedness and Global Health Security, said, “It’s concerning because there is evidence that some people seem to be able to transmit the virus even without obvious symptoms.”

    “On the Diamond Princess, whatever it is they were doing, it was not effective,” Dr. Rabinowitz added. “Cruise ships are by nature high density, lots of people, and it’s really a perfect setup for disease outbreaks, unfortunately.”

    On Wednesday night, Dr. Rabinowitz moderated a panel discussion on the latest research on COVID-19 at the University of Washington.

    As far as Obenchain is concerned, she has been keeping her spirits up. “I’m looking at it like an adventure,” she said. “Oh, it was sounding good about oh, 16 days ago. I miss work, I miss being able to walk around on my days off and go grocery shopping!”

    So far, it is not clear when Obenchain will be discharged from the hospital. At earliest, it may take a couple of weeks after the virus test comes back negative.