During the White House press briefing, held on March 20, 2020, President Trump expressed confidence in the cleanliness and sanitation standards of cruise ships, which have been offered up to potentially serve as temporary hospitals amid the escalating COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
With vessels pulled from commercial operation through at least mid-April, Carnival Corporation has offered to turn some of its ships into floating hospitals for non-coronavirus-related cases, in order to free up space in land-based facilities for an anticipated influx of COVID-19 patients. Select ships from its several brands, including Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and P&O Cruises Australia, could be made available to governments and health authorities, the company said.
In response to a reporter’s question regarding whether the president has concerns about utilizing cruise ships as hospitals, given that they have many frequently contacted surfaces, Trump said, “I can tell you they’re very clean and also those surfaces, the germ, as you know, the virus disappears over a period of time. And these ships are very clean. They’ve been kept very clean. They’ve been gone over.” He added, “But, the virus, as you know…disappears when it’s on a surface after a certain number of days or, in some cases, hours, depending on the surface it’s on.”
President Trump said that he’d spoken personally with Carnival Corp. chairman Micky Arison on the subject. “He said to me…if we need ships for helping people, that Carnival would be absolutely willing to help us in Los Angeles, in New York, wherever it may be, in Miami where they are very big. If we needed something, they would be willing to,” Trump explained. “So far, we haven’t needed to.”
Travel Weekly reported that the White House has already ordered the deployment of two large Navy hospital ships—one to New York and the other somewhere along the West Coast. In his briefing, the president implied that it would be brought up to offer relief either in California or Seattle.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, amid speculation surrounding any increased potential for contracting the virus aboard passenger cruises, cruise lines have reiterated their adherence to strict sanitation protocols throughout their sailings and explained that ships are also thoroughly disinfected between departures.
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