Thursday, April 2, 2020

Coast Guard Tells Cruise Ships With COVID-19 Cases To Stay Away From U.S. Ports

Cruise ships are docked at PortMiami on Tuesday. The U.S. Coast Guard has been working with cruise companies to bring people off of ships stricken with the coronavirus — but a new bulletin also says foreign-flagged ships should not rely on U.S. help. Wilfredo Lee/AP

The U.S. Coast Guard is telling foreign-flagged cruise ships to be prepared to care for people with COVID-19 for an "indefinite period of time" at sea or to seek help from countries other than the U.S., citing a health care system that is being overwhelmed. The instructions are in a new safety bulletin that took effect this week along the southern Atlantic coast, including Florida – which is reporting more than 6,700 coronavirus cases, as of Tuesday evening.

If a cruise ship must send someone ashore for medical care, its owner will be responsible for essentially every step of the trip, from arranging an evacuation to hiring a private ambulance and ensuring the person has a spot in a hospital. But the Coast Guard bulletin, signed by Rear Adm. E.C. Jones of the 7th District based in Miami, also says it could be difficult to find any facility in South Florida that can take new COVID-19 patients.  Read more >>