The Chair of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) has requested additional documents from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) amid reports that the Trump administration intervened in a decision on when cruise ships can safely resume sailings, according to a statement.
“Multiple press reports allege the CDC attempted to extend the ‘No Sail Order’ to February 15, 2021, but following White House involvement, the extension was shortened to the end of this month,” the statement said
Representative Sean Patrick Maloney released the following statement on his expanded request:
“These ships shouldn’t leave port until we know passengers and crew will be safe and the ships won’t again become global vectors of disease.
“The mistakes made at the beginning of this pandemic cost lives and caused chaos on board these ships. Our investigation into the failure to keep travelers on cruise lines safe continues. If we’re going to fight this virus and win the battle, we cannot make the same mistakes, and we cannot afford another coronavirus outbreak.”
In his letter to CDC Director Robert Redfield, Chair Maloney also 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 and political leadership at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) 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.”
Chair Maloney’s request expands on the original request, initiated May 1, 2020, when the Committee began seeking information from not only the CDC but also from Carnival Cruise Lines and the U.S. Coast Guard.
In addition, his letter said: “The past six months has shown that it is exceptionally difficult to fully prevent cases of COVID-19 from emerging onboard cruise ships even when there are a limited number of crew members, no guests and precautions in place to prevent the spread of the virus. The CDC’s original No Sail Order was put in place on March 14, 2020. However, since mid-April 2020, with only crews on board these ships, the CDC found five percent of crew members on board cruise ships in U.S. territorial waters tested positive for COVID-19, 24 required hospitalization, 15 required medical evacuations and two were placed on ventilators.”