Roe: Elizabethton woman who tested positive for the coronavirus overseas is 'doing fine'

Hank Hayes • Feb 29, 2020 at 10:30 AM

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe said the Elizabethton physician’s wife who tested positive for the coronavirus is well.

“Just got a text from Dr. Arnold Hopland that his wife is doing fine,” Roe said in a conference call with reporters. “She is free to go home as soon as the embassy clears the travel restriction.”

The Hoplands were on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan that was under quarantine after the coronavirus outbreak.

Dr. Hopland’s conversations with Roe led to all Americans being evacuated from the ship.

“Dr. Hopland has to wait a week and then will be removed from the travel restrictions as all the other Americans who departed the ship and never tested positive,” Roe said. “I am very, very pleased that all the folks we got off that ship have recovered or are recovering. ... The ones who tested positive were isolated in California and all are doing well.”

Roe said he has received four briefings on the status of the outbreak with attendees coming from a number of federal agencies, including the National Institutes of Health.

Roe said he has been pushing for more coronavirus test kits to get to local health departments and walk-in clinics.

“When you have a disease isolated in one place, you can corral it there,” Roe said. "When (a disease) is in multiple countries as mobile as a society we are in the world, you can expect more cases in the United States. We have great public health facilities in this country, and they are ramping up with testing kits and other equipment that is needed.”

The next step, said Roe, is developing a coronavirus vaccine, which could take a year to 18 months to impact larger numbers of people.

He called Democratic criticism of federal spending on the coronavirus “completely political” and added the federal government will provide resources to take care of the American people.