WINTER SPRINGS, Fla. - Taylor Grimes wanted to see the world and meet new people, so he applied for a position on an Italian cruise ship. Everything was fine until the coronavirus pandemic hit the cruise industry.
Before long, Grimes had a hunch he was exposed to the virus.
"I never had any symptoms, which makes me so happy that I volunteered to go into isolation. I’m so happy I didn’t go home because I could’ve infected countless people," Grimes said.
As coworkers went back to the United States, Grimes was shuffled around a bit, first to a guest room with a balcony, then to another ship. He is now on a hospital ship. In all, it's been 62 days.
"A lot of people are like, 'What are your big plans for when you get off the ship?' I don’t have any. I’m just excited to have the things that people who are home are taking for granted," Grimes said.
His mother, Ann, is back home in Winter Springs. She says they get on the phone a lot and when the connection is strong enough, she takes him on outings via video feeds.
"He’s been to Publix with me because I want him to see what it's like with no toilet paper...what life is like here," Ann Grimes said.
She says her son is trying to stay upbeat. He has been chronicling his ordeal in blogs and with video. In one video clip, he is seen taking a COVID-19 test.
The problem is, every few days he is tested, but the test results are not consistent. The U.S. embassy is telling the family that he is dealing with an Italian company, regulated by Italy, so they can’t intervene. His contact at the embassy is named Anna Marie.
"I have the virus. There is no changing that, which means there is very little Anna Marie can do. She has tried to get them to do the tests faster, but there’s nothing she can do. She can’t force them," Grimes said.
Italian officials say, before he can leave, Grimes will need to have two consecutive tests that show he is negative for the virus.