Woman shares experience of coronavirus, quarantine aboard cruise ship

COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Washington state, with a record high number coming in earlier this week. For many who’ve already had it, the battle isn’t over once they’ve kicked the virus.

“I didn’t think I was going to get it, I didn’t think I had it until they tested me, and it makes you wonder how many asymptomatic people there are out there,” said Marianne Obenchain.

Obenchain was one of the passengers on the now infamous Japanese cruise ship, the Diamond Princess. The Olympia woman went through quarantine on the ship - and again when she got off the boat. She wasn’t just one of the first locals to get the virus, she was one of the first to show you could have it, and never know it.

Though she tested negative and was deemed recovered this past spring, she said having had it definitely comes with a stigma.

“You can see the look of terror in someone’s eyes when you say, 'Oh yeah I’ve had it but it’s fine, I’ve tested negative,' and they look at you like they don’t believe you’ve tested negative or something," said Obenchain.

Obenchain still deals with people reluctant to be around her because of it, she said.

“It kind of let me know who my real friends really were and who were just acquaintances. I hold no grudges, it’s just some people are overly concerned.”

But her biggest struggle, like most of us, is dealing with the loneliness of quarantine without a real end in sight.

“I think the hardest thing psychologically is not being able to have contact with people. You don’t think that that’s an important thing to be able to hug somebody you haven’t seen for a while, until you can’t," she said.

Separation from friends and family is continuing perhaps longer than most of us anticipated as numbers continue to rise. But health officials say the increase in new cases is mostly in younger populations, so there hasn’t been a significant increase yet in deaths or hospitalizations.

Regardless, health officials say the steady rise is concerning and should be taken seriously.