Photo: Roberto Machado Noa / LightRocket via Getty Images
Well, cruises have done it again: They insist on getting back on the water, then end up dragging coronavirus outbreaks in their wake. It’s the same story since the start of the pandemic; indeed, at the very beginning of 2020, cruise ships facilitated the viral spread as they lashed between ports around the world, circulating crowds of international passengers in the same closed spaces. The fiasco has sparked several class actions – the plaintiffs included people whose loved ones have died after their vacation – but cruise lines continue to push it. Last August, for example, a Norwegian ship that boldly tried its luck with a little trip to Svalbard reported a cluster of cases. Last November, the same thing happened on the first passenger ship to resume the pandemic Caribbean cruise, which reported a cluster of cases. Last May there was an outbreak on a brand new Royal Caribbean ship even before any passengers boarded.
And now, as US-based cruise traffic picked up in June and the Delta variant increased across the country, a Carnival ship departing from Galveston, Texas has weathered an outbreak that left one dead .
According to the New York Times, the carnival Seen mapped 27 infections over a two-week period between July and August – among the highest infection rates for a single ship since cruises resumed for the summer. Despite allegedly rapid isolation, Marilyn Tackett, a 77-year-old passenger from Oklahoma, had to be placed on a ventilator in Belize and ultimately died on August 14 after being evacuated to an Oklahoma hospital. Washington To post reports that all infected people (all crew members except Tackett) have been vaccinated. Speak To post, Tackett did not take a COVID-19 test before boarding, although Carnival maintained in a statement to the newspaper that “she almost certainly did not contract COVID on our ship.”
âWe have continued to support his family and will not add to their sadness by commenting further,â he continued.
While it’s difficult to say for sure where Tackett’s infection came from, it may be worth noting that his ship left a county in Texas with a high infection rate, into a state with a high infection rate. high infection. and a governor-ordered ban on mask and vaccination requirements (at least in local businesses; apparently about 96 percent of Seen passengers were vaccinated). Speak Times, 56% of Texas residents are still unvaccinated, just to give some context to Carnival’s launch point.
To Carnival’s credit, it has implemented new security protocols in recent days, including interior masking requirements and pre-departure testing for all passengers, even the vaccinated. And as Carnival’s communications director Chris Chiames pointed out to the Times, COVID “is everywhere”, on land and at sea. Carnival’s policy “will adapt and adapt,” Chiames said, “to mitigate and minimize the threat.” But the coronavirus, he continued, “is going to stay everywhere for a long time.”
True! And I would bet: maybe especially if the cruise ships keep on cruising? Seven-day data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, submitted Friday, shows the agency is investigating or monitoring COVID cases on more than 30 ships in U.S. waters. As of last week, the CDC has been warning passengers who are not fully vaccinated and / or at risk of serious illness to avoid cruises altogether, calling them a level three COVID risk. The CDC system has only four levels, and three is high. Whether cruise lines want to admit it or not, their journeys create an environment that is conducive to the spread of disease: Cruises rely on large common spaces, bringing together people from across the country, if not the world, for days or even days. weeks. as they make pit stops in different ports. So with that in mind: looking at you, CDC.