White House softens stance on cruising amid coronavirus fears

Immunologist Anthony Fauci speaking at Monday's coronavirus task force briefing at the White House.
Immunologist Anthony Fauci speaking at Monday's coronavirus task force briefing at the White House.

The State Department on Sunday advised U.S. citizens not to take a cruise during the global coronavirus crisis. On Monday, a federal official appeared to soften that position. 

In a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, answered a question about what Americans should do if they had planned a spring break cruise.

“I think if you’re a healthy, young person, there’s no reason, if you want to go on a cruise ship, not to go on a cruise ship,” Fauci said.

He added, “The fact is that if you have the conditions that I’ve been speaking about … an individual who has an underlying condition, particularly an elderly person that has underlying conditions, I would recommend strongly that they do not go on a cruise ship.”

Fauci was immediately followed by Vice President Mike Pence, who said officials were expecting a proposal Tuesday and expecting new safety and health protocols by the cruise lines, including processes for evacuating people who might be diagnosed with Covid-19. 

“I know the president was grateful that our cruise line leadership stepped up to the table, they said they’re ready to go to the next level,” he said. “We’ll be reviewing that proposal tomorrow, with the objective that apart from the Americans that Dr. Fauci just described -- seniors with serious underlying conditions – we’re going to work with the cruise industry to improve the safety, improve the health environment on cruise lines in the short term and the long term.” 

The State Department notification on March 8, said that U.S. citizens, particularly those with underlying health conditions, should not cruise.  

During the briefing, President Trump said that he would be meeting with congressional leaders Tuesday to discuss payroll tax relief and meeting with the Small Business Administration to create loans for small businesses. 

“We’re working with the airline industry, the cruise ship industry -- which obviously will be hit, we’re working with them very, very strongly -- we want them to travel, we want people to travel to certain locations and not to other locations at this moment, and hopefully that will straighten out sooner rather than later,” he said. “But we’re working with the industries, in particular those two industries. We’re also talking to the hotel industry.”


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