The White House says cruise ships are okay. The CDC — and the rest of us — know better
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a “no sail” order on all cruise ships back in April, after it became abundantly clear that they are mobile breeding grounds for coronavirus. That’s still true, and the CDC wanted to extend the moratorium on letting these floating cesspools sail until mid-February. But, in an unsurprising dock block, the White House overruled the CDC’s “no sail” extension order yesterday — which was set to expire today — so now it looks like these ships will be back in business as of October 31st. What’s going on here?
Well, Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, recommended the extension in a coronavirus task force meeting on Tuesday but was immediately overruled, reported the New York Times. Why? “The President, the Vice President and the task force follow the science and data to implement policies that protect the public health and also facilitate the safe reopening of our country,” Brian Morgenstern, the White House deputy press secretary, told the Times.
No one’s sure what “data” this decision is based on, though. Morgenstern also told the Times that this move wasn’t politically motivated, but there are some key factors at play that seem, well, suspiciously political.
First of all, this administration has been at odds with Redfield since he became the director of the CDC in March. He’s been criticized by the White House for recommending masks and insinuating that a vaccine might not be available until 2021, the Times reported. But this massive decision to allow cruise ships to sail — even though they are known to scatter and spread COVID-19 — can’t be based solely on this adversarial relationship between Trump and the CDC, right?
There’s also the fact that the cruise industry has been hit hard by the pandemic and they want their customers back. Yes, of course, everyone in the business world wants to start making money again, but the cruise industry happens to be extremely influential in Florida — one of the states that Trump desperately needs the support of to win the election — and both cruise industry lobbyists and Republican politicians in Florida have called for ending the no-sail order, reported the Times.
Don’t worry about the fact that Redfield warned that allowing cruise ships to sail without proper precautions could be a public health disaster, though, because the cruise industry has formed its own Healthy Sail panel — organized by the major cruise industry players. And, apparently, the panel is going to make sure that everyone is tested before they hop on board a ship with thousands of other people, reported the Times. I, for one, am going to need receipts.
There are so many holes in this plane. What about the fact that a person may be infected close enough to boarding time to test negative? Stephen Ostroff, former acting commissioner of the FDA, who serves on the Healthy Sail group, told the Times that people will have to wear masks, and sure, expecting people to wear masks 24 hours a day for a week while they’re on vacation is reasonable.
This could go fine, sure. But it could also be Trump’s latest attempt to gaslight supporters into thinking that he is making America great while simultaneously playing chicken with their lives. I’ll let you decide.