CDC Faults Carnival Corp For Inaction On Coronavirus During Early Stages, Why Has Trump Put Carnival’s Micky Arison on the Special White House Council?
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following bombshell revelations that Carnival Corp. knew about the coronavirus threat but neglected to take necessary steps to stop the virus from spreading — exacerbating the crisis in the CDC’s view — government watchdog Accountable.US is calling on President Trump to remove the company’s chairman, Micky Arison, from his Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups.
“Someone with a record of recklessness when it comes to dealing with coronavirus is the last person President Trump should be taking advice from on reopening the economy,” said Kyle Herrig, president of government watchdog Accountable.US. “It’s like recruiting an arsonist to join the volunteer fire department. Throughout this crisis, the President has put way too much stock into the views of corporate executives worried solely about profits, not people on Main Street who’ve been left out to sea.”
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In the view of the CDC, however, Carnival helped fuel the crisis. “Maybe that excuse flies after the Diamond Princess, or maybe after the Grand Princess,” says Cindy Friedman, the experienced epidemiologist who leads the CDC’s cruise ship task force. “I have a hard time believing they’re just a victim of happenstance.” While it would have been tough to get everyone aboard the ships back to their home ports without infecting more people, Friedman says several of the plagued Carnival ships didn’t even begin their voyages until well after the company knew it was risky to do so. She says its actions created a “huge strain” on the country. “Nobody should be going on cruise ships during this pandemic, full stop,” she says.
Even after Carnival became aware of the potential coronavirus case, passengers say staff tried to keep the fun going. Guests continued eating and drinking at buffets and bars, hanging out in saunas, and attending shows, including an operatic performance called Bravo. Carnival distributed itineraries (known as “Princess Patter”) guiding guests to trivia contests and other group activities on Feb. 3. “They were encouraging us to mingle,” says Gay Courter, who, after getting her temperature taken by a Japanese official the next day, went for a walk on deck and saw tables of as many as 30 people playing mahjong. A Carnival spokesman says the staff discontinued “most” scheduled activities on Feb. 4, though Japanese officials didn’t institute a shipwide quarantine requiring passengers to stay in their cabins until Feb. 5.
As of early April, Carnival still had passengers at sea, nearly a month after the CDC issued a March 8 public advisory to “defer all cruise ship travel worldwide.” Spokesperson Frizzell says Carnival wasn’t under any legal obligation to follow the CDC’s advice. “The advisory is not an edict,” he says.