Thirty-eight Pennsylvanians returned to the commonwealth on Tuesday after undergoing strict quarantining and health screening due to their time on the Grand Princess cruise ship, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said had 28 cases of the coronavirus confirmed.
The 38 Pennsylvanians were tested for COVID-19 before boarding the plane from Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia, according to Lieutenant Colonel Keith Hickox, public affairs officer for the Pennsylvania National Guard. Hickox said the 38 were tested again before deplaning in Pennsylvania, and all of them are reported to be asymptomatic, the Pennsylvania National Guard said in an official statement.
The group was flown into the Harrisburg International Airport in Middletown “very early [Tuesday] afternoon,” Hickox told the Central Penn Business Journal Tuesday afternoon, speaking from the National Guard’s Pennsylvania base in Fort Indiantown Gap in Lebanon County.
“Depending on where they live, some of them are likely already home and some of them are traveling right now, especially those from the western part of the state,” Hickox said.
More than 50 Pennsylvania National Guardsmen were placed on active duty to assist partner agencies in their response to the spread of COVID-19 as passengers of the Grand Princess cruise ship returned to their home state this week.
“Assisting and serving our fellow neighbors is a very personal effort as this is where we live,” said Major General Anthony Carrelli, the adjutant general of Pennsylvania. “We are all in this together.”
Hickox said the National Guard was assigned to provide multiple subject matter expert planners to assist the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and provide transportation guardsmen to facilitate the return home of the 38 Pennsylvanians.
“In a snowstorm, we’ve in the past been used to help get stranded motorists off the highway,” Hickox said. “When you break it down like that, what we’re doing here is very similar. We’re driving people to where they need to get to, and we’re standing by for any other logistical needs for the state.”