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Quarantined Long Islanders wait to go home while keeping tabs on supplies

From left, Janis Brock, Stanley Dachinger, Jackie Brock

From left, Janis Brock, Stanley Dachinger, Jackie Brock and Linda Dachinger on Thursday as they remained quarantined at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia.   Credit: Stanley Dachinger

Holbrook residents Stanley and Linda Dachinger are down to their last roll of toilet paper and running dangerously low on tissues and clean towels. And that's to say nothing of their patience, which ran out days ago.

Such is life for the couple in the age of coronavirus.

The Dachingers, along with Linda's sister, Janis Brock, and her husband, Jackie, both of Manorville, have been isolated or quarantined for 10 days — first on the Grand Princess cruise ship, which had been forbidden to dock in San Francisco amid evidence it was a breeding ground for nearly 20 cases that resulted in at least one death after a previous voyage. They then were flown to Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marrietta, Georgia.

More than 60 New Yorkers are now holed up at the Dobbins Inn hotel on the base, where they will stay until the 14-day quarantine is complete.

"It's really, really rough," said Janis Brock, 70, in a phone interview Monday. "It's so frustrating because we all feel fine. It's just craziness."

Brock, a retired Federal Aviation Administration manager in Islip, and her family said they have no symptoms consistent with the coronavirus although none of them have been tested.

In recent days, the governors of Georgia, Florida, Wisconsin and Oklahoma have evacuated their residents from the base, which is located just northwest of Atlanta. 

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The Long Islanders are now pleading with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to follow suit and bring home the New Yorkers there so they can ride out the quarantine at home. 

"There are people arriving at JFK Airport from Europe that are being repatriated," said Stanley Dachinger, 77, who has also reached out to GOP Reps. Peter King (Seaford) and Lee Zeldin (Shirley) for assistance. "Why are we being treated any differently? We are New Yorkers. We are Americans. And we have rights too."

Officials with Cuomo's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

In a statement Monday night, Zeldin representatives said the congressman's office "has been in contact with multiple constituents in these types of situations and has been in contact with both the Centers for Disease Control and the Governor's office to ensure the safety of these Long Islanders and their fellow Americans during this ongoing outbreak."

King spokesman Kevin Fogarty said the congressman's office was contacted Friday by a quarantined passenger and his family. King reached out to Cuomo's office and other federal agencies but there were limits about what could be done as the individuals are under quarantine, Fogarty said.

The Dachinger and Brock families began their journey Feb. 21 when they flew to San Francisco for a luxury cruise of the Hawaiian islands. 

On Feb. 29, the Grand Princess left Hawaii destined for Ensenada, Mexico, its last stop before returning to San Francisco. But on March 4, just after lunch, the captain made an announcement that the cruise was being cut short.

A California man, who had left the ship 12 days earlier on a San Francisco-Mexico voyage, had died after contracting the coronavirus, becoming the state's first COVID 19 fatality. All passengers were told to stay in their rooms for the duration of the cruise as at least 21 passengers tested positive for the virus.

The Grand Princess eventually docked at the Port of Oakland after spending days off the California coast as quarantine plans were prepared. 

On March 12, the Dachingers, Brocks and more than 250 others were flown to Dobbins Air Reserve base. Other passengers went to bases in Texas, Alaska or stayed in California. 

The Suffolk families were stunned to learn that the five days spent in isolation on the cruise ship would not count toward their 14-day Georgia quarantine, which continues through March 26.

The days in their hotel room are long and uneventful, Stanley Dachinger said.

There's television and cell service. The food is less than ideal — chicken, often bathed in a cream sauce, for lunch and dinner most days. And there's a small outdoor path that everyone can wander, as long as they wear masks.

"All we want is a box of cereal and milk," said Dachinger, a retired electronics engineer. "There is no milk in the entire facility. We can't get these basic things … There is no process where things are controlled. There is no one in charge."

And then there's the cleanliness concerns.

His hotel room has not been cleaned in five days and there are no supplies for them to clean up for themselves. They've had difficulty getting toilet paper and clean towels.

And there's little to no information about what will happen next, they said.

"We are not young kids," Janis Brock said. "Spending two weekends of your life, when you are 70, sitting in room, day in and day out, is a lot. We just want to go home."

With AP

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