Oct 1, 2020 - Health

CDC: 3,689 COVID-19 or coronavirus-like cases found on cruise ships in U.S.

 A couple wearing face masks as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, walk at the Marina Long Beach with Cruise Ships docked at the port
Cruise Ships docked in April at the port at Marina Long Beach due to a no-sail order in Long Beach, in California. Photo: Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images

There have been at least 3,689 COVID-19 or coronavirus-like illness cases on cruise ships in U.S. waters, "in addition to at least 41 reported deaths," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said late Wednesday.

Driving the news: The CDC released the data from the period of March 1 through Sept. 29 in an emailed statement confirming the extension of a no-sail order for cruise ships through Oct. 31, as first reported by Axios' Jonathan Swan on Tuesday in his article revealing CDC director Robert Redfield was overruled in a push to extend the order into 2021.

  • The figures are the result of cumulative surveillance data reported to the CDC and are "likely incomplete and an underestimate," the CDC said.

What else they're saying: "Recent outbreaks on cruise ships overseas provide current evidence that cruise ship travel continues to transmit and amplify the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 — even when ships sail at reduced passenger capacities — and would likely spread the infection into U.S. communities if passenger operations were to resume prematurely in the United States," the CDC said in its statement.

  • "Recent passenger voyages in foreign countries continue to have outbreaks, despite cruise ship operators having extensive health and safety protocols to prevent the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 on board and spread to communities where passengers disembark.
"When health and safety protocols were apparently observed, resuming passenger operations significantly burdened public health authorities by creating the need for additional SARS-CoV-2 testing, isolation of infected travelers, contact tracing, and quarantine of exposed people."

Of note: The new no-sail end date matches the endpoint of the cruise industry's self-imposed ban.

  • Cruise Lines International Association's Bari Golin-Blaugrund said in a statement to USA Today the organization, which represents 95% of all ocean cruise liners, is "confident in the industry’s ability to resume operations from U.S. ports in a responsible, phased-in manner."

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