ALCOA, Tenn. — Dr. Arnold Hopland arrived back in East Tennessee on Sunday after he and his wife were quarantined in Japan over coronavirus concerns.
"It feels like where I belong," Hopland told 10News. "It just is great. I've been waiting for this moment for about a month now."
The Hoplands live in Elizabethton and were on a Diamond Princess cruise in Japan when the outbreak took hold in Asia in February.
Hopland's wife, Jeanie, was diagnosed with it but has not fallen ill. Eventually, she and her husband were moved off the cruise ship.
"My period of time in quarantine, I felt I needed to do it," Dr. Hopland said. "I did not want to come home and be...spreading disease in my community."
Dr. Hopland never tested positive for COVID-19. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 700 people on board did.
WHO has reported seven passengers originally on board the Diamond Princess have died from COVID-19.
Jeanie was kept at a Tokyo hospital after testing positive for the highly contagious virus.
After she had two consecutive negative tests, she was given a clean bill of health and allowed to fly home.
She arrived back in the Tri-Cities on March 2.
Arnold tested negative for exposure but remained in Japan for two more weeks to make sure he did not develop symptoms.
RELATED: Man under quarantine because of coronavirus concern: 'We are being treated as individuals without a country'
He has been writing a book about his experience and lessons learned that he hopes to publish in the next month or so.
"It will be titled COVID-19 at Sea and it's about ready to go," Hopland said. "It probably it just kept me from getting a little stir crazy. I don't like being cooped up."
Hopland said he originally planned on filing his taxes once he got off the cruise ship. After almost a month of quarantine, his priorities have shifted a bit.
"They tell me that my income tax is gonna be due and I was planning to do that about a month ago," Hopland said with a chuckle. "I hate to sit down and do that. That'll be probably the bottom of the list."
He thanked Congressman Phil Roe for addressing his concerns with how the disease was being handled aboard the Diamond Princess. Hopland said he plans to continue working with health officials after his experiences.
"We've had quite a few twists and turns," Hopland said. "I hope to elucidate that so next time we can have a proactive, coherent policy that actually makes sense."
FEB. 18: Four East Tennesseans in quarantine, treatment after exposure to coronavirus on cruise ship