A second member of Congress has requested clarity on the CDC decision to extend the No Sail Order (NSO) for cruise ships by only one month, citing potential White House interference.
Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), chair of the House subcommittee on Coast Guard and maritime transportation, requested documentation from the CDC regarding reports that the Trump administration "intervened in a decision on when cruise ships can safely resume sailings," citing multiple press reports https://www.axios.com/scoop-white-house-overruled-cdc-cruise-ships-florida-91442136-1b8e-442e-a2a1-0b24e9a39fb6.html that alleged that the CDC had wanted to extend the NSO to Feb. 15 but was thwarted following White House involvement and shortened it to Oct. 31.
Maloney also cited language in the CDC's NSO extension, issued on Sept. 30, saying "Cruise ships continue to be an unsafe environment with close quarters where the disease spreads easily and is not readily detected."
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Executives speaking at Seatrade expressed confidence that their ships would soon begin sailing from U.S. homeports.
In a letter to CDC director Robert Redfield, Maloney wrote, "I am worried about impairments to the independence of the CDC's science-based and unbiased public health advice based on reported interference from the White House as well as pressure from the cruise line industry. With more than 346,000 new Covid-19 cases in the United States in just the last seven days alone and more than 215,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, the number of Covid-19 cases in the U.S. continues to grow dramatically every day."
The letter cites cases of Covid-19 on cruise lines that resumed sailing in Norway and Alaska this summer.
"The insidious nature of Covid-19 and the physical infrastructure constraints on cruise ships makes containing potential outbreaks on board these ships an incredibly difficult task even with the best practices and procedures in place," Maloney wrote. "Such outbreaks can endanger the health and safety of both guests and crew, placing them in precarious, potentially life-threatening situations that can ripple into local port communities having economic and serious health implications."
Earlier this month, Congresswoman Doris Matsui, a Democrat from California, had sent a letter to Redfield saying that the one-month extension "represents an alarming departure from previous Centers for Disease Control and Prevention policy for cruise ships, and I am concerned it may threaten public health. Creating new opportunities for Covid-19 to spread before the virus is contained could lead to the additional loss of human life and significantly delay economic recovery."