Guy Cerullo and his newlywed wife Milena Basso were supposed to be closing this week on the purchase of their new home in Blue Point.
Instead, the young couple remains quarantined half a world away with thousands of other passengers on a cruise ship that now counts coronavirus cases by the dozen.
Thursday night, 44 more cases were confirmed on the vessel that’s been harboring near Yokohama, Japan, for 10 days, bringing the total number of passengers and crew known to be infected to 218.
The coronavirus numbers on Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess are “really starting to worry us even more than we’ve been already,” Cerullo, who operates Long Island Tree Service in Bayport, told GreaterSayville.com. “This is really starting to affect me financially. Not being present is really taking a toll on the company.”
The chief and more immediate concern for the Cerullos remains dodging the lethal coronavirus, and disembarking the ship healthy on Feb. 19, the last scheduled day of the weekslong quarantine imposed by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
And that won’t be easy.
A nearby neighbor on the ship — a woman from California — has been alone in her cabin since her husband tested positive for coronavirus four days ago and was taken to a land-based medical facility. The Cerullos have listened to her frantically and repeatedly tell Japanese officials that she is sick and wants to be tested — that she “doesn’t want to die on this ship.”
“She has had a fever for two days,” Guy Cerullo said. “They finally sent someone — and they won’t test her.”
The Cerullos know another woman onboard in a similar situation.
“The husband tested positive, and they took him off. The wife is still in the room. She could easily be positive, and they never tested her,” said Cerullo, who graduated from Patchogue-Medford High School in 2010.
“Now, he’s in a hospital five to six hours away. Getting treated. He feels fine. They told him if he tests negative for two days in a row, he can leave.”
More than 30 percent of the 713 passengers and crew who have been tested for coronavirus have come back positive for the disease. Thousands of the more than 3,700 people on the Diamond Princess have not been tested.
Guy Cerullo said he and his wife feel healthy and that “they’re keeping it that way” by not leaving their room. He acknowledged that he and his wife feel like fish in a barrel on the ship — easy targets for a very contagious virus that has killed more than 1,100 people worldwide, mostly in China.
“Especially because there are definitely people on here that could have it and are still interacting with other passengers,” he said. “That’s why we don’t leave the room.”
The Cerullos have appeared on multiple news programs — CNN, Fox News and Inside Edition among them — in hopes of drawing more attention to their plight and encouraging American officials to rescue them and more than 400 other Americans on the Diamond Princess. Cerullo and his wife even made pleas to President Trump for help.
The interviews with the media took a mental toll on the couple, Guy Cerullo said, “And we got nowhere.”
The Cerullos wed in November, were living temporarily in Patchogue, and left shortly after the New Year for a 30-day honeymoon. They miss their life on Long Island, and can’t wait to return to normalcy and their beloved dogs at home, Baxter and Mimi.