Gay and Phil Courter, Americans quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in early February, were convinced remaining on board the “floating petri dish” as “The New York Times” called it, was dangerous. The couple fielded dozens of interviews daily from their cabin aboard the ship, speaking with reporters representing television networks and publications from across the globe.
The Courters were stuck on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in the port of Yokohama, Japan. The ship made headlines for becoming the first location of reported COVID-19 cases outside of mainland China, a month before a pandemic was declared. At least 712 of the 3,711 passengers and crew members were infected, and 14 died. The Courters spent twelve days confined to their cabin aboard the Diamond Princess. They became the leading, and often only, voices to suggest the Diamond Princess was not an effective quarantine facility. They eventually convinced the U.S. government to take a more active role in the situation. The U.S. airlifted the Courters and other Americans to military bases back home. Gay and Phil spent fifteen days at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, under federal quarantine.
Gay, a New York Times best-selling author, and Phil, a documentary filmmaker, recounted their experience throughout both quarantines and the evacuation, sharing videos, audio files, still pictures, and commentary with media outlets across the globe.
Both in their 70s, the high-risk couple spent weeks in constant fear of the highly contagious disease. While in quarantine, the Courters educated themselves on testing and monitoring practices for those exposed to the novel coronavirus. The Courters were first exposed onboard the ship and exposed again when they traveled with infected passengers in the State Department’s evacuation of Americans from the Diamond Princess.
The Diamond Princess was the second-largest hotspot at the time, even receiving its own recognition on the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracking map. Soon, global coverage surrounding the situation included every major network, “The New York Times”, “The Wall Street Journal”, “The Washington Post”, “The Atlantic”, “TIME”, NPR, CTV, and many more.
In early March, after the two quarantines, Gay and Phil Courter returned to their home in Florida with (thankfully) negative COVID-19 tests. Though exhausted, Gay began writing about her experience immediately. Gay’s book, “Quarantine!: How I Survived the Diamond Princess Coronavirus Crisis,” goes on sale today.
Interested in learning more? In her inimitable, long-admired voice, Gay Courter tells how it feels to wonder if you will be the next victim of a virus that didn’t even have a name at the time. Join Gay on November 18th as she discusses the book, her time on the Diamond Princess, and more as part of Innovation Women’s webinar series, Innovation Women Speak!