Industry Unfairly Slammed

Double Call at CocoCay

The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure in the U.S. House of Representatives recently slammed the cruise industry for its handling of the COVID-19 outbreak and its record on norovirus. In a letter to Carnival Corporation, the committee stated that the industry has had a problem managing, containing and responding to public health outbreaks.

However, a search of CDC records only shows 1,142 cases of norovirus reported in North American waters in 2019. The cases were on eight ships, including three incidents on ships of a European cruise line.

In 2019, an estimated 14.5 million passengers cruised in the major North American sailing regions – the Caribbean, Alaska, Mexican Riviera, Bermuda, Canada and New England, Hawaii, Panama Canal and on rivers, according to the 2020 Cruise Industry News Annual Report.

That means the norovirus incident rate on cruise ships was 0.008 percent in the region.

By comparison, the CDC also reports that some 20 million Americans shoreside get sick from norovirus each year for an incident rate of approximately 6.1 percent.

The committee also wrote that nine Carnival ships have been infected with COVID-19 resulting in more than 1,500 cases and at least 39 deaths and charged that the company has not been sufficiently focused on public health and passenger safety.

But not only may the cruise industry not have been sufficiently prepared, most countries were not prepared, including the United States. Federal and state governments have responded differently and so has in many cases different countries as well.

According to an article from the University of Southern California, it’s been a challenge to get political authorities, and even some public health authorities, to take pandemic preparedness seriously, wrote Sociologist Andrew Lakoff of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. (He is the author of Unprepared: Global Health in the Time of Emergency, University of California Press, 2017).  “It’s asking people to put resources into addressing a potential threat whose probability is impossible to calculate, so attention to it has waxed and waned.”

At press time, the U.S. reported 74,665 dead from the COVID-19 virus while more than 267,000 have died worldwide.

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