If all goes well, Spencer Ferenbacher will be home in Fort Langley by Wednesday, March 4, ending a long quarantine that began aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship and ended at a U.S. military base in California.
“It will be a whole month, to the day,” Fehrenbacher told the Langley Advance Times Sunday, the night before he was to be released from Travis Air Force Base in Sacramento.
“I am very ready to get out.”
His most recent test at the base found him to be free of the Covid-19 virus, which has killed roughly 3,000 people and sickened tens of thousands since it began spreading.
Fehrenbacher, who has American citizenship, was flown out by a U.S. military plane along with other U.S. citziens from the Diamond Princess, after it was quarantined in Japan.
In a video he posted to the non-profit Ruptly video news agency, Fehrenbacher described a “very long flight, full of people coughing, full of people wearing haz-mat suits,” calling it “scary.”
As of Sunday, at least six people from the ship had died and more than 700 of the 3,711 aboard had contracted the virus.
At the air force base, the Diamond Princess passengers spent their quarantine at the “Air Force Inns,” what appeared to be a hotel complex for non-military visitors.
The accommodations were comfortable and the food was “surprisingly” good, Fehrenbacher noted, but he was looking forward to resuming life in Fort Langley.
“Hearing the trains every 20, 25 minutes and that British Columbia rain,” he recounted.
He won’t miss the early morning knocks on the door of his room, where he would have to put on a breathing mask and present himself to be tested.
Fehrenbacher may have avoided getting the virus because he used boiling water to sterilize the plate and cutlery handled by the ship staff who delivered meals to people confined to their cabins.
Via phone, a friend had insisted Spencer use hand sanitizer to prevent viral contamination of plates and utensils, but he opted to use the electric kettle in the room instead.
As it turned out, a number of ship’s crew, possibly including food handlers, came down with the virus.
Another decision that may have helped Fehrenbacher avoid the virus was declining to take part in the irregularly scheduled hour- to hour-and-half-long breaks with other ship passengers.
He gave the break a pass because he happened to have a cabin with a balcony.
Later, he read that the precautions, that were supposed to be in place to prevent the virus spreading during those breaks, broke down over time and were not being followed, with some people taking part while they had a fever and others failing to keep the required minimum distance of six from other passengers while walking on the ship deck.
Fehrenbacher isn’t sure if those decisions made a difference, but he was looking forward to a time when he didn’t have to make those kinds of calculations,.
It amounts to a near-constant state of “cautious anxiety,” he explained.
“If you get a cough, you wonder, ‘am I still healthy?’ ‘That time I cleared my throat, is that normal?’”
“I think that I might have spotted a couple more patches of grey hair,” he commented.
He was going to be travelling with his father, Scott Fehrenbacher, who arrived in Sacramento the day before Spencer was due to be discharged.
Because they couldn’t book a flight back until Wednesday, Scott and Spencer were planning to spend two days hanging out in Sacramento.
Then, once he is back in Fort Langley, Spencer intends to celebrate with his favourite meal.
“A nice, cold beer, and a chicken sandwich, with yam fries, at the Trading Post Eatery.”