KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – Dr. Arnold Hopland landed Saturday in Knoxville after weeks abroad battling quarantines and bureaucratic red tape to get home amid the coronavirus outbreak aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship off the coast of Japan.
“It feels like where I belong,” Hopland told reporters when they asked him how it feels to be back home. “It’s just great. I’ve been wishing for this moment for about a month now.”
Hopland discussed his frustration with how ineffective the quarantine on the Diamond Princess was and outlined guidelines he wished had been followed.
“Instead, they held us there, 700-and-some were infected, at least three, maybe five deaths, and at least 70 Americans and maybe more infections, including my own wife, and that really made me angry. That’s when I stopped being objective about it, it was becoming, it was personal,” he said.
Hopland explained that when those onboard realized they would be quarantined, the internet connection became so bad that it took him three days to reach family members at home to set up his cellphone so that he could make calls to the U.S.
Though he was finally able to reach Congressman Phil Roe, he still displayed frustration toward the government.
“The initial plans were to have two-week quarantine on the boat then everyone would have come home on commercial airlines and it would have been a disaster,” Hopland explained. “Dr. Phil Roe just was a hero, he immediately understood the problem, reached out to HHS Assistant Chair Dr. Cadillac, who after hearing the defenses the CDC made for their, I think foolish, plans, contradicted them, brought home 280 Americans, we had another 100-and-some to go, they blocked that, and I’m very frustrated by it.”
Dr. Arnold Hopland’s wife, Jeanie Hopland, recently returned home after testing positive, and then negative, for the COVID-19 coronavirus. Dr. Hopland himself felt his separate quarantine was warranted.
“My period of time in quarantine, I felt I needed. I did not want to come home and be a Typhoid Mary, spreading disease in my community. So I had no problem with the fact that I was quarantined for a period,” he explained. “In fact, my quarantine was reset three times is rather interesting, we’ve had quite a few twists and turns and I hope to elucidate that so that next time we have proactive, coherent policy that actually makes sense, but when you get caught flat-footed, you do the best you can. I think people, no-one was ill-intended, but no-one was prepared for this.”
Hopland said that he has started putting pen to paper to create “COVID-19 at Sea,” a novel about his experiences over the last month.