Yesterday, Dr. Scott Gottleib stated on the Face the Nation program that the U.S. will experience a “difficult fall and winter” due to the expanding COVID-19 epidemic. Although medical care for infected patients has resulted in fewer fatalities, Dr. Gottlieb warned that “we’re still going to have a lot of death and disease by the end of the year.”

The U.S. is “Taking a lot of Infection into a Very Dangerous Season”

Dr. Gottlieb previously stated to CBS News two weeks ago that with the number of coronavirus cases continuing to rise as the United States heads into the fall and winter months, the country is “taking a lot of infection into a very dangerous season” for the virus. “I think that there’s a lot of concern that we could start to see a real upsurge and this is a continuation of a broader trend underway as we head into the colder months,” Gottlieb said. “We were always facing heightened risk of increased spread of coronavirus as we headed into the fall and winter. Now we’re there. We’re starting to see that increase, and we’re taking a lot of infection into a very dangerous season for this virus.”

Dr. Scott Gottlieb – “It’s an Awful Risk to Pack a Lot of People on a Cruise Ship”

Dr. Scott Gottlieb is best known as one of the more notable experts on the Royal Caribbean – Norwegian Cruise Line joint “Healthy Sail” Panel. He is the panel’s co-chair and a former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner.  He was very vocal last March (before he was paid to be on the panel) when the CDC entered its first  No Sail order which specifically refers to the fact that “cruise ship travel markedly increases the risk and impact of the COVID-19 disease outbreak.”

“I don’t think anybody should be taking a cruise right now … this is a very sticky pathogen,” the doctor explained last March 9th, “and once it gets inside a closed space such as a cruise ship, it spreads widely.” He gave the Diamond Princess cruise ship as an example of the wide spread of COVID-19, where more than 700 people were infected and over a dozen people subsequently died. “It’s an awful risk to pack a lot of people on a cruise ship,” Dr. Gottlieb said.

False Optimism in the Face of a Expanding Epidemic

The cruise executives most recently appeared at the annual Seatrade Cruise Convention where they claimed that it is safe to resume sailing.

The fact of the matter is that despite the cruise executives’ happy talk, it remains dangerous to engage in recreational travel and congregate in large groups. The epidemic is expanding in over 30 states. Miami-Dade County is a hotspot for the virus and is the county with the second highest number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. There is an average of over 50,000 people infected a day with the virus in the U.S. in the last week.

Questions Remain Regarding Cruise Lines’ COVID Protocols

There remain questions regarding the cruise industry’s protocols to safely return to cruising. Have all of the CLIA-member cruise ships been retrofitted with appropriate air-conditioning & ventilation systems with HEPA filters to reduce airborne transmission of COVID19 to guests & crew? Regarding the industry’s so-called “100% testing of guests and crew, the Miami Herald questioned “what testing will be used, when it will be done, and whether the passenger or the companies will pay for it.”

We recommend tracking the epidemic via the data compiled by the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

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