Greensboro couple allowed by CDC to fly to North Carolina days after testing positive for coronavirus


GREENSBORO, N.C. — A Greensboro couple is home recovering from COVID-19 after being sent home from a quarantine facility in Georgia. 

Marilyn White, 75, and her 85-year-old husband, Laurin, were passengers aboard the Grand Princess Cruise ship and disembarked in California March 11.

The couple was first bused to Oakland before they boarded a chartered flight to the Dobbins Air Force Base in Georgia. Both were hospitalized separately after falling ill and later transferred to a former hotel being used to quarantine COVID-19 patients in Marietta.

Lauri Lyn Hodges, the Whites’ daughter, said her mother was tested for coronavirus March 15, her father was tested two days earlier. Both received their results by March 20, showing they were positive for COVID-19.

Three days later, they received a letter from the CDC rescinding their quarantine, allowing them to go home.

“I was floored and I was very angry because here we are shutting down our whole lives and the CDC is not following its own directions,” Hodges said.

According to a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC modified its policy and rescinded the federal quarantine order for people who tested negative or were asymptomatic.

Under the new policy, passengers who had a positive test result who went more than three days without fever, and showed improvement in symptoms, were eligible for release from their health care facility.

“All passengers whether located on base or in a health care facility had twice daily symptom checks. Before departing the base or health care facility, all passengers had their temperatures checked and were checked for symptoms of illness,” a spokesperson wrote by email Monday.

The Whites waited several more days and the cruise line booked them a flight home Friday, March 27, from Atlanta to Charlotte.

“I did have a certain amount of assurance that we’re probably not gonna give it to anyone because we have been seven days out, but there’s no guarantee that we’re not still carrying that, because I know that you can still shed the virus for up to 12 days after you’ve gotten it,” Marilyn White said.

From Charlotte, Hodges booked ground transportation through a private company. Her son is immunocompromised and she said it was the only way to get them home without jeopardizing her son’s health.

“I’m very thankful that my parents are home and healthy, and that they can continue to recover but I’m very disappointed in the organizations that we are supposed to trust,” Hodges said.

Laurin White is recovering from double pneumonia as well. Marilyn said Monday that she feels weak, but is recovering.

She said the couple considers themselves fortunate because others haven’t been able to return home.

“There are so many passengers that are still on cruise ships out there that have died and aren’t able to come in to the shores here, the ports,” White said.

According to an HHS spokesperson, the agency has and will continue to notify state health departments if a passenger residing in their state had a positive test result.

“It is anticipated that the state will also follow up with passengers residing in their home,” the spokesperson wrote.

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North Carolina Coronavirus Hotline: 1-866-462-3821


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