Back in Grand Forks and under a newly imposed 14-day quarantine, Paul and Kari Kolstoe are resting at home after the whirlwind trip it took to get them there.
The Kolstoes arrived at the Grand Forks airport early Friday morning, but weren’t allowed to leave the tarmac. The couple did not enter the facility; it was a preventative measure taken due to their potential exposure to coronavirus aboard a Feb. 21 Princess Cruise and subsequent quarantine at a military hotel at Travis Air Force Base in California.
While they waited on the runway, the Kolstoes were met by officials from Grand Forks Public Health and the office of the federal assistant secretary for preparedness and response. They were presented with a new 14-day quarantine order that will be overseen by the state.
“Unfortunately, the clock started over on the 14 days, so it was 14 days from when we got off the ship, but now it's 14 days from when we landed in North Dakota,” Kari Kolstoe said in Saturday morning phone call with the Herald.
The Kolstoes' trip home was grueling. A sudden call on Thursday evening from a Travis Air Force Base official informed the couple they would be going back to North Dakota. They were flown to Sacramento McClellan Airport – formerly McClellan Air Force Base – where they boarded what Kari Kolstoe called a “medical plane,” along with a couple from South Dakota.
“Literally, they called us and said 'we’ve got a timeline, we'll be there to get you ASAP,'” said Kari. “We didn't have bags; we still don't have luggage.”
A military reserve doctor in a full hazardous material suit accompanied the two couples to Sioux Falls, S.D., where the other couple, and the doctor, disembarked.
“He was keeping the pilot segregated from us because it was a small airplane,” Kari said.
Once the Kolstoes arrived in Grand Forks their temperatures were taken by a public health nurse, and they were allowed to drive their own car home. Their car had previously been brought to GFK by the couple’s daughter, who worked in conjunction with public health officials to assist her parents' return home.
The concern now for Kari Kolstoe is getting treatment for stage four neuroendocrine cancer. The details, she said have not been worked out on how her treatment and quarantine can co-exist.
In yet another twist to the Kolstoes’ story, Kari’s oncologist at the Mayo Clinic – she has two, one at Altru hospital – is also under home quarantine.
“He arrived from Barcelona the same night we got home, so at the Mayo Clinic, he cannot see patients,” she said.
For now, the couple must stay home. They take their temperature twice a day and report the readings to public health. A table is set up outside their home so their daughter can drop off groceries and supplies.
The table also served as a place to receive a welcome treat: A pizza from Happy Joe’s.
“We put right on the memo of the delivery ‘set on table outside door’ and we attached the tip online,” said Kari. “That was a highlight of the night, having a Happy Joe’s pizza.”
As a public service, the Herald has opened this article to everyone regardless of subscription status.