Pence meets with cruise line executives in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday

Cruise industry to bolster coronavirus protocols within 72 hours
Posted at 8:33 AM, Mar 07, 2020

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Vice President Mike Pence, along with Florida Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, and Governor Ron DeSantis, spoke at a press conference in Fort Lauderdale Saturday afternoon, addressing mounting concerns of the coronavirus and the effect it will have on the nation’s $45 billion cruise industry.

Cruise line executives will work with federal officials and the CDC over the next 72 hours to develop enhanced coronavirus protocols.

This is Pence’s second visit to South Florida in about a week to discuss the latest efforts to combat the outbreak.

“It really does underscore how important today’s meeting was. That there are unique challenges for cruise lines with regard to coronavirus or the spread of other infectious diseases,” Pence said.

The roundtable discussion took place at Port Everglades, which is considered Florida’s ‘powerhouse port’ and one of the most diverse seaports in the United States.

Pence also announced a preliminary agreement he and cruise executives made to stop the spread of COVID-19 on ships.

The Vice President said executives would work on ironing out the details over the next three days.

Pence made it clear that he is not discouraging healthy Americans from taking a cruise or domestic travel.

He reiterated the need for the elderly with underlying health conditions to remain vigilant.

“The American people value our cruise line industry,” Pence said. “Nevertheless we all recognize the recent challenges posed on the Diamond Princess and the ongoing challenge with the Grand Princess in the spread of the coronavirus.

Pence shared a brief update about the Grand Princess cruise ship being held off San Francisco’s coast.

The ship recently had 19 crew members and 2 passengers test positive for the virus.

"The American people deserve to know that the risk of contracting the coronavirus to the average American remains low," Pence said. "That being said we are going to lean into this effort."

The Vice President said the Grand Princess would be directed to a non-commercial port where passengers would be tested and quarantined.

As the cruise industry develops a plan to handle coronavirus concerns, some of the proposed rules include the following:

  • Further enhancements on entrance and exit screenings
  • Establishing on-board coronavirus testing
  • New quarantine standards which will be coordinated with the Center of Disease Control and Prevention
  • Developing a plan to move passengers who have contracted the virus to land-based facilities