Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Calls on President Trump to Temporarily Suspend Cruise Line Operations

March 12, 2020
Press Release
Washington, DC Today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) sent a letter to President Trump calling for a temporary suspension of all cruise line operations nationwide until there are proper procedures available to ensure with total and absolute certainty that all people can be tested for COVID-19 and cleared before boarding or disembarking cruise ships. The letter also urged the Administration to work with Congress to provide economic relief to all affected passengers. 
 
 
The full text of the letter is below:
 
Dear President Trump:
 
Out of great concern over the continuing and uncontrolled threat posed by the COVID-19 outbreak, I write to urge you to temporarily suspend operations of all cruise lines nationwide until there are proper procedures available to ensure with total and absolute certainty that all people can be tested and cleared  before boarding or disembarking cruise ships. I also urge your Administration to work with the industry to ensure affected passengers are refunded the cost of their tickets. 
 
It is imperative that the cruise ship industry in the United States halt all service to prevent community spread for the foreseeable future. An outbreak of COVID-19 aboard a crowded ship unquestionably presents high-stakes difficulties, particularly in the Pacific Region and my home state of Hawai‘i, where Lieutenant Governor Josh Green has called on your Administration to temporarily ban cruise ships from docking in the islands. We cannot afford to let cruise passengers risk infections in our country, causing mass exposures in our communities or risking another cruise ship being quarantined at sea.
 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has indicated that cruise ship passengers are at at increased risk of person-to-person spread of infectious diseases. In addition, the CDC recommends travelers, particularly older adults and those with underlying health issues, defer all cruise ship travel worldwide. The State Department also has stated publicly that “U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship,” in alignment with the CDC. And today, the Office of the Attending Physician advised not to initiate travel on cruise ships until further guidance has determined this to be a safe practice.
 
According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Global Passenger Report, the median age of cruise passengers is between 60 and 69-year-olds. Further, Surgeon General of the United States Jerome Michael Adams explained that the virus had been more severe for older people based on the data currently available - this has also been confirmed by the World Health Organization.
 
The serious problems brought forth by the Grand Princess cruise ship this week and the Diamond Princess in Japan last month are enough to make this a major priority in response to COVID-19. In addition, in recent weeks, we have seen cruises denied entry into ports, passengers quarantined for weeks on these ships - some far from their homes, or outside their travels plans - and the need for repatriation flights to evacuate some passengers in dire need of care. 
 
Until a guarantee is in place with a plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on cruise ships and in ports of entry, it is imperative that you call on cruise lines to halt all transport operations into and from the United States for the safety and protection of our nation, especially older Americans.
 
Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard previously voted to pass legislation that will provide emergency funds to address the novel coronavirus. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has called on the Trump Administration to suspend flights from South Korea and Japan given the prevalence of COVID-19 infections in these countries, until they can guarantee all passengers will be tested prior to boarding flights to the United States. 
 
In order to ensure that any treatment developed for COVID-19 is accessible and affordable, Rep. Gabbard joined a letter to President Trump demanding that pharmaceutical companies are not issued exclusive licenses for the production of such treatments or capitalize on drugs that have been funded by billions of taxpayer dollars.
 
Rep. Gabbard also wrote to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar calling for clear guidelines for state and local governments to receive federal reimbursement for the costs they are incurring as part of their response to this public health crisis.
 
About Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is serving her fourth term in the United States House representing Hawai‘i’s Second District, and serves on the House Armed Services and Financial Services Committees. She previously served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Homeland Security Committee. She was elected to the Honolulu City Council in 2010, and prior to that at age 21, was elected to the Hawaiʻi State Legislature in 2002, becoming the youngest person ever elected in the state. Tulsi Gabbard has served in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard for 16 years, is a veteran of two Middle East deployments, and continues to serve as a Major. Learn more about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard...
 
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