DES MOINES, Iowa– One year ago, life as we knew it was about to change. The country faced lockdowns and the looming coronavirus crisis. While most of us dealt with that uncertainty at home, an Iowa couple was dealing with those same worries at sea.
One of the first outbreaks on a U.S cruise ship turned their two-week vacation into nearly a month-long ordeal.
“It’s been a long year, “ said Tim Blount.
Three-hundred and sixty-five days ago, Tim and Wanda Blount were stranded at sea. The Newton couple was stuck on board the Grand Princess cruise ship off the coast of California after nearly two dozen cases of coronavirus all but locked down the ship.
“It was more confusing than anything,” remembered Tim.
“We never really did get any answers. They would tell us something and then it would change so when you got the answer, it never really was the final answer,” added Wanda.
They and the more than 3,500 other passengers were taking it one hour at time. Those hours turned into days. For the most part, they had to stay in their cabins as they waited to get the all clear to dock. Once they stepped foot on dry land, the questions began again.
“Ok, what happens next?” Wanda remembered asking.
Instead of coming home to Iowa, the couple was whisked off to Texas and placed into quarantine at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.
“We were in a fenced-in area. There were men with guns making sure we were staying inside the fenced-in area, and that’s not something we’re accustomed to,” described Tim.
They weren’t used to being surrounded by people in Hazmat suits either. Yet the Blounts say they were well-cared for while they waited for the state to make arrangements for them to fly home to Iowa to finish out their quarantine.
“We were tested when we were in Texas. We got our results the day after we were released from quarantine telling us we had been negative the whole time,” said Tim.
As far as they know, they have stayed that way, never contracting the virus over the past year.
“We are get-out-there people. We haven’t been in a cave or under a rock this year. We have gone some places,” explained Tim.
Still, they have taken all the precautions. Like most everyone, they have known people who have been sick even died from COVID-19.
For the Blounts, the year of coronavirus in Iowa began with an extended adventure. One they will never forget.
“It was, but one I wouldn’t necessarily recommend,” said Tim.
“I’d rather do without,” added Wanda.
“I’d rather do without that part,” agreed Tim.
When they can, the couple is ready to get back on a cruise ship. Wanda has already been vaccinated. Tim is waiting for his turn.