Photo: Hit1912/Shutterstock

US Coast Guard Orders Cruise Ships With Sick Passengers to Remain at Sea Indefinitely

by Eben Diskin Apr 2, 2020

By order of the US Coast Guard, all cruise ships currently at sea must remain at sea indefinitely during the coronavirus pandemic and send any ill passengers to countries where vessels are registered. The new rules, which went into effect March 29, apply to any ship carrying more than 50 people. It requires sick passengers to be sequestered indefinitely on board and for all ships in US waters to report their numbers of sick and dead each day.

“This is necessary,” said a memo, “as shore-side medical facilities may reach full capacity and lose the ability to accept and effectively treat additional critically-ill patients.”

Over two dozen cruise ships are currently lined up at Port Miami and Port Everglades, or waiting offshore to dock. While most are only carrying crew, several still have passengers. Carnival, for example, is carrying over 6,000 passengers at sea right now.

Cruises have been a hotspot for the virus over the past few months, with the Zaandam — a South American cruise carrying sick passengers — still set to dock in Florida. Two of the four deaths aboard the ship have been attributed to the coronavirus, and nine other passengers have tested positive. Although the ship is making its way toward Florida, governor Ron DeSantis expressed doubt that the state’s healthcare system can accommodate patients from the Zaandam.

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