Elizabethton couple shares insights from coronavirus quarantine experience

Loknath Das

Arnold and Jeanie Hopland’s two-week vacation on the Diamond Princess cruise ship turned into a six-week ordeal when coronavirus broke out on board. Japanese authorities tried to quarantine passengers on the ship but Arnold, a doctor, knew that wouldn’t work.

“We were in tight, closely-connected quarters with no reasonable separation,” he said.

He’s now frustrated after his warnings were ignored. He’s now watching the same mistakes on other cruises.

“We had a representative from the CDC suggesting that everything was under control, that there was no problem,” Arnold said.

Jeanie contracted coronavirus while on the ship. She said people shouldn’t panic.

“I had a little bit of a cold,” she said. “I think that might have been the start of it, but I’m not sure if that was the start of it or not.”

Once the Hoplands got off the ship, they were separated.

Jeanie spent two weeks in the hospital making friends with other patients showing few symptoms.

“We called it our tiger walk,” she said. “We walked back and forth between our beds for a half hour. We got to shower everyday. I read.”

Now back home at his medical practice, Arnold said it’s the elderly who are most at risk.

“Everything we know about this disease, about 80 percent of it is pure speculation,” he said. “Even its transmission modes are not known.”

Jeanie is thankful for the community support she and Arnold received.

“Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your concern. It’s humbling to know that many people cared,” she said.

Arnold is working on a book about his experience on the Diamond Princess. He hopes it will push governments to better prepare before a more dangerous pandemic happens.