Speed Reads

the coronavirus crisis

State Department warns Americans to avoid cruise ships during coronavirus outbreak

The State Department issued a warning on Sunday, telling Americans, especially those with underlying health issues, they should not travel by cruise ship amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Illnesses can spread quickly in close quarters, and 21 people on board the Grand Princess cruise ship, now being held off the coast of California, have tested positive for the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The boat is set to dock at the Port of Oakland on Monday, and 3,500 passengers will be transferred to military facilities where they will be tested for the virus and quarantined for 14 days. In February, nearly 700 people on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship tested positive for COVID-19, and eight died.

Two people familiar with the matter told The New York Times that four members of the government's coronavirus task force — Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Dr. Robert Kadlec, assistant health secretary for preparedness and response; and Dr. Deborah Birx, coronavirus response coordinator — were vocal about the need to warn older travelers about the risks involved with taking cruises during the outbreak. Trump, however, pushed back, because he thought a warning would hurt the travel industry, the Times reports.

Before the State Department issued its travel advisory, Fauci appeared on Fox News Sunday and said elderly Americans with health conditions should "absolutely" not board a cruise ship at this time. As of Sunday night, there are more than 500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, with 22 deaths.