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JeffB

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Everything posted by JeffB

  1. Your opinion is not unpopular in my view. It is your opinion and your right to voice it. I don't share your pessimism regarding shipboard human behavior. Passengers who choose to board a cruise ship knowing the presence and implications of COVID-19 must be assumed to act responsibly while aboard until they demonstrate they aren't acting in that manner. I could add descriptions of typical crowd behavior given a known threat and given measures to mitigate it but I won't ......... I do know that compliance rates can be upwards of 90% in those circumstances and with appropriate cuing (in this case visible placard reminders and ship's staff involvement in encouraging individual compliance for the benefit of the group). I've already mentioned this: If the cruise lines can deal with Norovirus, which they have demonstrated they can, they can deal with SARS-CoV-2. The media, among others, rail against rising C-19 case numbers in the US. I can't speak directly about all states that are experiencing such increases but I am intimately familiar with Florida's situation. The correct way to assess the impact of what is believed to be reopening associated increases, increases attendant to increased social contacts, is to examine the impact such increases are heaving on a region's health care system. A second measure of disease impact is case fatality rate (CFR) - an excellent proxy measure of virus control or lack thereof. Assessments like this are known as evaluating disease burden. Is the state healthcare system able to deal with an increasing number of new C-19 cases that require admission? In the case of serious C-19 related symptoms do hospitals have sufficient staff, equipment and medical supplies to care for them? What is the CFR? Is it rising or declining. In Florida's case, the median age of the roughly 7000 new C-19 cases in the 5 days including and immediately before Friday was 34. It was 57 in April. 98% of these were either asymptomatic or had mild symptoms. The admission rate for patient's with confirmed positive RT-PCR testing (swabs) was less than 2% in this same 5 day period. There are more ICU beds being occupied in the three major hospital systems in the Tri-County Region of S. FL by non-C-19, post surgical procedure patients than there are C-19 patients. Only 11 C-19 patients are on a ventilator. These are not being used much now anyway because early intervention with other therapies are making ventilator use unnecessary and early ventilator use has not improved outcomes and in some cases worsened them. Hospital capacity is not anywhere near becoming overwhelmed. Bed availability remains above 30% with flexibility to increase it and the necessary staff to provide care. Claims to the contrary by the media, according to the three medical directors running these hospital systems in S. FL, are false. CFR is declining. The point is that the disease burden in FL, despite increasing new case numbers attendant to reopening, is very low. It is becoming increasingly obvious that C-19 is infecting a much younger cohort, with fewer symptoms and therefore less need for admission to a hospital for acute or critical care. Certainly, the disease is demonstrating its transmissibility but it appears that the price being paid for that is substantially lower and outweighed by the economic and social benefits of reopening. I believe those lessons being learned in FL apply to most regions and certainly would apply to restarting cruise ship operations given the likely safety and mitigation measures the industry will undertake. IOW, benefits outweigh risks. I find the CDC's recommendation to halt cruise ship operations from US ports, such recommendations acted upon by the Department of Homeland Security, to be arbitrary, unjustified and likely to alter, if not destroy, the cruise industry. Unfortunately, my position is not shared by most epidemiologists who are advising on the formulation of CDC policy. The C-19 media hysteria is, in large part, responsible for this. My view is that is because none of them are willing to stick their necks out and incur the uninformed rath of the media who will accuse those who would take such a position as mine of having blood on their hands if the cruise industry should return to operations of any type. That is the sad realty rather than the reality you describe - the one that the folks just won't behave - that will, for all intent and purpose, drive even the strongest industry giants into bankruptcy and reorganization should the no-sail-order remain unchallenged and extended beyond July 24th. But, I'm not in charge of anything, can't do anything about this stupidity other than write about it ..... and I do.
  2. I just took a quick look at several news sources reporting on this. The language from CLIA is clear - CLIA is voluntarily suspending cruise line operations through September 15th. Nary a peep from RCL and it's brands nor Carnival and its brands, more than 12h after the CLIA pre-press release. I find that weird. Also weird is an investment firm (that I never heard of) simultaneously releasing a statement that the CDC has unfairly targeted the cruise industry. It's actions are thought to be arbitrary. Probably more fanciful optimism but is there some politics being played here ....... CLIA to the CDC, "OK you won't talk to us (alleged in the investment released), screw you, we're done talking. Get back to us when you are ready to talk. ...... oh, and the next person to talk to is my lawyer." The Cruise lines can't sue in the conventional meaning of that term but they can file an injunction to stop an illegal federal government action. Pretty sure I could make a case that the CDC's no-sail order is arbitrary and probably illegal ..... and I'm not even a lawyer; I did stay in the Holiday Inn last night though. Just did a quick Google search and yes a person or corporation has standing in the US District court that would have jurisdiction in this matter and could file a petition - the first step - followed by filing evidence with the court to support the action (the CDC's) the plaintiff (CLIA, I guess) wants the court to review ........ ...... and tomorrow morning I'll get a letter from Celebrity stating it's canceling my August 1st cruise. Here are my options. Darn! I'd love CLIA to file an injunction asking for relief from the arbitrary actions of the CDC that have no basis in protecting the public health of US citizens. I can dream, can't I?
  3. Yep, I was a bit too optimistic. No worries. Another cancellation, another FCC....... unless the entire cruise industry folds.
  4. Fair points Ampur85. I'll respond....... On Protocols and the time it takes to design and implement them: I find it hard to imagine that the CDC and RCL have been sitting on their hands over the last 3 months. I trust the Trump administration and HHS have the best interests of companies hurt by C-19 in concert with considerations for the public health of the cruising US public. Certainly the Trump administration is pro-business, pro-reopening to bring the US economy back up to speed. While technically RCL is not a US registered business the US jobs it's operations support in the travel and leisure industry are no drop in the bucket. I can't cite the numbers but they cannot be insignificant. I'm going to assume that RCL has contingency plans recently designed to support a re-start of operations in August. Did those contingency plans get developed in the dark? I doubt it. and here's my reasoning why: This is a company that employs hundreds of thousands of workers within their operational supply chain and is capable of producing multi-billion dollar annual revenues. Will the US via the HHS/DHS/CDC machinery keep them shuttered? My magic eight ball says decidedly NO! I think these agencies run by Trump people want them to survive and thrive and to that end, they are talking to them privately if not secretly about what needs to be done to allow them to lift the no-sail order. We got a glimpse of it already with the color code system for ships repatriating crew despite denials from CDC spokespersons that it had nothing to do with stipulations the CDC will come up with for passenger carriage on those same ships. We'll see about that. I'd add that CLIA was already on to designing and implementing safety and health protocols for COVID before the CDC no-sail-order got dropped. On other countries not welcoming cruise ships with primarily Americans on board regardless of the benefits to their economies: I think this issue is the one most likely to scuttle an August restart. This is especially true if new C-19 cases continue to surge in the US as they appear to be now, notwithstanding my view that new case numbers without qualifying context are about worthless. That won't make any difference. High new US case numbers and associated growth rates may be used as a means to prohibit cruise ships from entering their ports of call regardless of any mandated CDC protocols and promises of adherence to them that RCL will offer. On a positive note, I could see RCL doing some arm twisting here, or call it incentivizing officials with either withholding further infrastructure development or offering more of it including additional head taxes. I'd add that unlike NCL and probably Carnival, RCL is in a much better cash position to take the risks associated with a first to dive in to the darkened pool of the unknown. Don't think for a moment that RCL does not have on its list of things to do to grab market share. Early bird gets the worm and all that. This is a highly competitive industry and the fittest and boldest will survive and thrive; weak sisters will take a back seat. That is a powerful motivator to get this thing done and if things they can't directly control fall into place, and I've provided reason to believe they will, RCL will be sailing by August. On the bad PR issue: I believe I addressed that. This is an Occam's Razor circumstance. The simplest solution or explanation will prevail. In finding explanations for actions, in this case by RCL, the simplest thing to do is to follow the money. I contend that RCL knows exactly what they will do to counter past and future bad optics fabricated by the national media without the facts to back up their ridiculous "Petri Dish" characterization of a cruise ship (I addressed that with some facts in another post here). I feel confident that knowing how they will cope with this puts worrying about it down the list of immediate priorities. Generating revenue by operating their ships is key, top on the corporate to do list, and they will try to do that any way they can beyond pushing future bookings which has to be running out of steam. This includes implementing a step-wise approach - a few selected sailings to demonstrate their capacity to not only operate but do it safely. I believe that will start in August.... as fanciful a prediction as that might be. Follow the money. The corporate entity that is RCL is not timid and if they were before C-19 or continue to be in addressing it going forward, they would have then or in the current circumstance deserve(d) to fail. That won't happen. Lastly, I think you base a good deal of your view that RCL will not start as early as I suggest it will because they won't risk the potential cost of litigating and potentially losing a tort claim involving allegations of recklessness or negligence in a passenger's death secondary to C-19. The link provides a decent discussion of why Cruise lines are relatively immune to such tort claims to wit: "Suing a cruise line for these types of cases (C-19 illness/deaths) is extraordinarily difficult." That's because cruise lines enjoy a number of protections. They're not U.S. companies and not subject to health and safety regulations like the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)......" There's way more in the article below and all toll it adds up to, RCL is covered. https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/04/22/840525310/even-with-covid-19-cases-suing-cruise-lines-is-extraordinarily-difficult Hope this helps to raise, in your mind, the chances of starting up in August to what I believe is a 50/50 proposition - that low of a probability resting solely on factors I mentioned that are beyond RCL's control and not trending favorably in their direction. I'll acquiesce to your outlook should I not see favorable trends in the uncontrollables I speak of by early July.
  5. I believe that most of us avid cruisers who have developed an insatiable taste for it are letting the media’s view on COVID and the chaos in America's cities create a reality that is quite different from that of the cruise industry - especially RCL and its brands. I want to change your view to coincide more closely to how I think RCL sees things. Warning: This is a long post but nevertheless something to consider. Apologies in advance. if TLTR then stop here and don't. I'm a retired USMC pilot and later an EM Physician Assistant with 22 years of practice, now retired. I'm a consumer of abundant COVID (C-19) data, medical journals and scientific research. I live in Fort Lauderdale so I am being constantly bombarded by very negative C-19 national and local news that often fails to include context. It's hard to remain positive in light of that. But the medical and scientific facts paint a more hopeful circumstance for this C-19 pandemic than the social, print, and broadcast media paint. I’m an optimist! Certainly, reopening is causing more social contact and more new C-19 cases; that was anticipated by FL's public health and other government officials including Governor Desantis. I suspect that's the case in other regions and states. Despite the hand-wringing of Governor Desantis' political opponents, such hand-wringing being augmented by a politically hostile FL press, It's pretty clear that FL officials have decided that the benefits of getting residents of this state back to work outweigh the risks (so far) of more C-19 infections. State and local officials have apparently also decided that they can deflect the "blood on your hands" harangue from the press over reopening too soon or too fast. Other states are following similar paths in reopening and suffering similar backlash and doubts. Don't get me wrong. SARS-CoV-2 and the illness it produces, C-19, is serious stuff. But here are some things we've learned about it: It's a virus with the same natural pathogenesis (the way it evolves in terms of what we see in a human host with no immunity) as past pandemics like the 1918 Spanish Flu. It has a steep growth rate, plateaus then declines (the shape and length of plateaus and slope of the decrease will vary by region and be affected by controllable factors). It’s highly transmissible and therefore hard to contain – more so than anything virologists have seen in the past. COVID-19 deaths are dropping as states protect vulnerable populations and those that are vulnerable to serious illness alter their behaviors. See chart of FL's COVID deaths below. Global death rates are declining. Death rates tend to be one of the best indicators of the severity and decline or accelerations of a pandemic. The proportion of new infections since US reopening is dominated by the under 45 age cohort. This cohort, on balance, suffers only minor symptoms. Despite alarm bells being sounded in press rooms about hospital capacity "close to or at limits,” the facts don't support that headline. See your own state’s Public Health Dashboards US testing and contact tracing have improved over time, esp. in FL. It is likely that this will have a salutary effect on the spread of the disease in states that were early adapters. While the medical community won't categorically state that masks and social distancing reduce the spread of the virus because of a lack of controlled studies to confirm that hypothesis, the anecdotal evidence that these simple mitigation measures work v. the spread of SARS-CoV-2 is overwhelming. With that as a back-drop, back to my point - RCL is a business that depends on income and profits to survive. They unemotionally assess risks to their business model all the time and the impact of C-19, while unprecedented, is just one of them. There are things that are in their control - operating expenses v. income - and things that aren't - CDC's No Sail Order, Home Port and Port of Call openings, the pathogenesis of C-19 in regions where RCL has operating interests. Nevertheless, the need to generate income is going to be a primary driver in decisions to start operating. In my view, sooner rather than later. I also believe that the various ports that RCL and CLIA have to deal with will do the same kind or risk/benefit analysis our states are doing and conclude that for the sake of their economies, esp. the tourism industries, they have to open to cruise ships and deal with the downside potentials if and when they happen. To that end, Port Everglades is open and, according to an update on their web page yesterday is, "ready to welcome the cruise industry back and are prepared to welcome back guests with enhanced sanitation and social distancing measures in our terminals." Certainly, early returning cruisers are going to find potentially inconvenient mitigation measures in place, for example, strictly enforced and widely separated boarding times, proof of recent RT-PCR (swabs) negative testing before embarking or debarking from certain ports among many others that you have heard about (masks, limited capacity in the ships and in ships venues, etc.). Early return to cruising passengers are going to have to plan for and to be flexible enough to accommodate those likely mitigation measures along with itinerary changes, the possibility of being denied entry to a port of call or even home port if a crew member or passenger comes down with C-19, ship swap outs and changes in transportation to and from embarkation/debarkation points. If you are an early cruiser, you can also expect strict control measures for preventing C-19 or dealing with single or multiple C-19 infections on board should that occur. There will most likely be protocols for cruise lines for covering the costs of disembarking/transferring and quarantining C-19 positive passengers and crew both onboard and once ashore acceptable to home ports and ports of call - a huge task but one that cruise lines will figure out. Could they require passengers to carry travel insurance? I think that is entirely possible and even likely. If you get C-19 while aboard, you'll be quarantined, and I'd expect you will be required to debark at the next port of call at your expense/covered by your travel insurance. All of this is going to affect your experience in potentially negative ways. Get your mind wrapped around these if you plan on jumping in early. Some won't want to deal with any of this and if you don't think you can, now is the time to re-think taking at risk cruises and those are probably the ones through the end of 2020 and into the 1st and second quarter of 2021 - assuming decreasing risk of having to deal with the various inconveniences over time. My take is that "normalcy" - and even then it won't be like cruising pre-C-19 - will return in the 3rd quarter of 2021 (July - a year from now) and then only if a SARS-CoV-2 preventative vaccine - or at least one that has shown to protect against the most serious complications of C-19 - is available and scalable. That's the bad news ................OTH, I believe there's good news too. I believe the CDC's release of it's color coding system that applies to the ships involved in the cruise industries repatriation efforts is a harbinger of a color-coding system for ships that will have passengers aboard. I also think the CDC is closer to green-lighting cruise ship operations out of US ports than we think, and I use the no news is good news slogan as a basis for that view. I have no doubt that CLIA and other industry lobby groups are putting polite pressure on the CDC and the Trump administration to lift the no-sail order. They must be. There are more factors and benefits weighing for restarting RCL operations, as soon as things RCL doesn't have control over start moving favorably in their direction, than the factors against or risks of a C-19 infection occurring on one of their ships. From a corporate standpoint it is a choice between insolvency or solvency; bankruptcy or operational viability. The cruise industry, in varying degrees and based on a company's cash position, is getting absolutely hammered - probably worse than any and they have a right to bitch about it and haven’t at least not publicly. Behind the scenes? Absolutely. Carnival announced today it is selling or scraping 6 of its 8 Fantasy class ships in the next 90 days - that's a big chunk of change and as the vessels are actually sold or scrapped a sizable reduction in operating costs. We'll see these kinds of measures characterizing the cruise industries attempts to remain solvent while trumpeting such actions as injurious to any US agency holding the keys to restarting the gas turbines that will listen. My view is that across the industry generating income through sailings, even on a limited basis and as soon as possible, will be at the forefront and parallel any kind of cost shedding measures like Carnival just took. What about the risk of bad PR - something that popped up very early in the pandemic and was also highly damaging to the industry's rep and continues to be damaging? Dealing with bad PR if a cruise ship is found to have even one C-19 positive passenger or crew - something you have to believe RCL is planning on even now - is small potatoes compared to dealing with insolvency and bankruptcy. Think about that for a moment. Put yourself in the shoes of RCLs' CEO, Richard Fain. Corporations, especially one with the potential to generate 10s of billions in annual revenues, tend to survive. RCL will put its survival at the top of its list of short term corporate goals. I'm an optimist, I think RCL will sail, all things out of their control assumed to trend favorably, in August and on a limited basis. I think an early, limited start in the Caribbean has potential; I think the med, again on a limited/selected basis, has potential. We already know what regions are out for an August restart. Beyond that, it's anyone's guess..... you have mine. If Fain is to be believed, when RCL starts sailing again, while the experience will be different, it's likely to be as good as RCL can make it and I have no doubt it will still be overwhelmingly good. I'll enthusiastically jump right in with my mind and travel plans adjusted appropriately - Celebrity Equinox, 8n S. Caribbean, departs Fort Lauderdale August 1st, 2020..... a west bound translant out of Barcelona in October and a Holiday Cruise at the end of December.
  6. As far as I know, yes. The rules on the use of FCCs are complicated with a lot of if, then and buts. The basic concept is that if Celebrity cancels a cruise, you can get a 100% refund or a 125% FCC. Each FCC has a value and the cumulative value of each FCC can be applied to any future cruise or multiple future cruises until the cumulative value of all FCCs you hold are used up. I can only speak to the circumstance where Celebrity cancels the cruise. Once you jump into a different circumstance, e.g., L&S, Cruise with Confidence, Lowest Price Guarantee, there are a ton of qualifiers. I use an agent. She is pretty good with keeping up with this stuff; if you call Celebrity yourself, how all this works depends on the rep you happen to speaking with. Celebrity has a very good FAQ's page on all of this. Still, it makes my head spin.
  7. How the potential restarting for the cruise lines is unfolding is interesting stuff. The complexities of doing it are immense. I got to thinking restarting is not like pulling the ships now at sea back to their home ports and going for it. What US, EU +GB, Asian home ports will reopen? When? What destination ports will reopen? What will a country's public health officials require of passengers and crew embarking and debarking these ports? Quarantine? Can't go there. We have an 8n S. Carib. cruise booked on Celebrity Equinox out of Fort Lauderdale on August 1st. We live in Fort Lauderdale so I don't have airline tickets to deal with. So, I've been watching the Caribbean re-openings; Caymans was on the itinerary - not reopening 'till October. No biggy. The cruise line can by-pass that one and add a day at sea. The rest of the ports are probably already open (e.g., Aruba) or better than 50/50 to be open. But, where is Equinox right now? Will it continue to home port out of FTL with all the reorganizing going on? What ship might we be rebooked on if it goes somewhere else? I'm well prepared for any eventuality for this cruise. If it gets cancelled we'll take the 125% FCC; I've already applied one FCC and received another and will simply add a 3rd. I can apply all of those for a Holiday Cruise in December. That one is easy. In October, the 22nd actually, we have a Barcelona to FTL translant booked on Apex. We're flying to Lisbon 2w early, will be there for 2n then head to Switzerland for a week and end up in Barcelona on the 21st, RON and board Apex the next day. But, but, but .... normally Celebrity would reposition Apex on a East Bound Translant to Europe. It's already there in France and supposedly resumes cruises from Barcelona on August 5th home porting there doing the Eastern Med through the repositioning cruise I'm booked on back to FTL. With all the reorganizing will Apex switch to another home port and be replaced or not by another Celebrity ship? Right now, American's cannot travel to Europe. Will they be able to in October with no vaccine yet and the flu season starting? Without a quarantine? If we can fly into Lisbon without quarantine, will Switzerland open it's Airports to those with US Passports even though they are already in the Schengen region? All of this is mind-boggling. Good thing I'm flexible!!!?
  8. To be fair, the cruise industry has been wrongfully stigmatized as "floating petri dishes" by most mainstream broadcast and print media outlets. The Miami Herald has done some exhaustive reporting of actual data. They traced cases and deaths on 93 cruise ships world wide - not sure they caught everything but they got enough to draw some conclusions. Of the 157,000 COVID-19 cases and 5400 deaths attributed to the disease world wide by 3/13/20 - the day cruise lines suspended operations, the lines that the Miami Herald tracked tallied just over 3000 cases and 47 deaths through that same period. The cruise industries case numbers and deaths were insignificant in comparison to the totals. I've not done the math but just looking at it, if you normalized the figures on a per-capita basis using a per-1000 factor, cruise ship's contributions to the world wide SARS-CoV-2 would be tiny. By the time countries began figuring out that were facing a dangerous, highly tranmissible virus to which there was no human immunity, panic had set in, officials were looking for someone to blame and the cruise industry was an easy target. The optics as Ampurp85 defines above were created to blame that industry and they persist to this day driving unreasonable reopening decisions that are not data driven and will ham-string the four major cruise lines costing them billions in the process. There's link, within the link to an April 23rd article that has an XL spread sheet listing reported COVID cases and deaths by line/ship. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/tourism-cruises/article241914096.html
  9. I don't fundamentally disagree with you, Monctonguy but if they can get their acts together and put pressure on the lines in a collective fashion, they're in the drivers seat. Both need the money. If Caribbean nations open airports and hotels and resorts get filled while cruise ports remain shuttered, their drawing tourist dollars and the cruise lines aren't. If the number cited in the Miami Herald article is correct (overnight tourists spend 10X as much as 1 day cruise passengers) I can seem them sitting on their hands with regard to opening their cruise ports.
  10. An article that appeared in the Miami Herald this weekend suggests Caribbean nations may form a collective front to demand larger "head taxes" per cruise ship entering their ports. Seems that if these nations can pull together they can leverage the current COVID situation to their advantage. I was surprised to learn from the article that the average cruise passenger spends $132 for a port day in the Caribbean sun while tourists staying over-night spend 10X that amount. I've always felt that Caribbean nations weren't particularly fond of the impact the cruise industry has had in that region. OTH, I have also felt that these same nations want to bite the hand that feeds them routinely demanding more infrastructure development, higher and higher port fees, etc. There's been sort-of a tense stand off that is reflected in the occasional political protests and cold shoulders offered by the indigenous peoples of the islands when 15,000 + cruisers from 5 or more cruise ships deluge their islands on any given day. COVID presents and interesting advantage to nations engaging in some form of collective bargaining with the cruise lines. They simply won't open their ports until the cruise lines open their wallets. Of course that is going to cost passengers in the form of increased fares. I could envision a political stand-off having little to do with COVID that will prevent the cruise industry from starting cruising in the Caribbean in August.
  11. What are you willing to abide by in terms of mitigation and containment measures for COVID-19? Before you think about that or post an answer, let's make sure we understand the risks of becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2 getting to, embarking and debarking from and living aboard a cruise ship. If you've been reading any kind of medical news available to the lay public or, if like me, you're studying the medical literature on SARS-CoV-2, you will know that the the greatest risk of transmission comes from person-to-person, airborne droplets 5 microns or greater in size expelled by an infected person talking, singing, sneezing or coughing. The virus is known to be carried in aerosols that, by definition, are smaller than 5 microns and can be as small as 1-3 microns. The kicker here is that research indicates that the virions (components of the virus capable of infecting another person) are of insufficient amounts to cause infections in healthy persons with competent immune systems. That means plumbing or AC systems aboard ship are not likely to be spreading the virus around the ship. Let's let that ride for a moment because we do know that there are at risk populations that will mount a less than robust immune response from exposure to the virus. These folks will be sickened by aerosolized SARS-CoV-2 where others won't, some seriously (but, less than 5%). If you are in one of those groups, cruising before a vaccine is widely available becomes riskier. You could be susceptible to infection from both droplets or low viral load aerosols. If you are not, your risk of getting infected getting to your cruise ship, embarking, sailing and debarking then getting back home is not high considering the mitigation measures already in-place and a 75% compliance rate. You might get minor symptoms. You might not get sick at all if you pay attention and do the things the travel and leisure industry is counting on us to do so they can operate safely. In the case of cruise lines, operate at all! If you are a healthy person, some healthy people even over 55 and even 65 (not over 80) and pay attention, your risk of getting seriously ill and dying is very low. The chance of dying while operating a motor vehicle and having an accident is about 16/100 (13%) The case fatality rate for COVID is thought to be around 6% or about 6/100. One important point I want to make is that becoming infected by touching a contaminated surface with your hands and then transferring sufficient virions to cause COVID-19 (the disease from SARs-CoV-2) to your nose, eyes or mouth by touching them is low risk. There are 5 steps in that process and it is easy to interrupt the transfer at any of those points (e.g., wash your hands, don't touch your face). There appears to be an over-emphasis on this means of transmission when, in fact, it's not the major transmission pathway - not even close. Airborne transmission is. Still, we'll see an increased focus on hand washing by various measures to make it easy for passengers to do that. Based on the foregoing, the best mitigation protocols involve social distancing and wearing a mask when you can't - I can make the case for wearing a mask everywhere in enclosed places and even outdoors but it would take too many keyboard strokes and this is long enough. Trust me, masks are good at protecting against one infected person spreading it to others. Protection is even better and approaches 95% if both the infected person is wearing a mask and so are other people within 6 feet (2m) intermingling in public spaces. The scientific and medical evidence that supports that statement is overwhelming. I am not saying virus mitigation measures involving cleaning surfaces and sanitation aren't needed - they are and can be increased - but all the talk of this, a seeming focus on it, is less important than distancing and masking. Requiring masks in public areas, to include casinos, bars, restaurants and entertainment venues doesn't need to be a deal breaker and definitely isn't for me. In fact, I believe they are crucial mitigation measures for cruise ships. I doubt cruise lines will mandate them with those mandates enforced by staff. They'll be recommended, and friendly reminders to mask up in certain settings will come from officers and information posted about the ship. I'm fine with the kinds of distancing we're already seeing mandated by airlines (not necessarily enforced) in our local restaurants and casinos in Vegas as they re-open. I'd add that capacity limits to shipboard bars, restaurants, gyms, casinos, theaters, (shows) that allow for distancing are appropriate. This is easy to do and not terribly inconvenient if you're flexible, adaptable and willing to recognize humans are vulnerable to this thing when there is zero immunity to it. Folks worry about enclosed spaces, especially gyms or ride studios where people are huffing and puffing. Mitigation in these places can take the form of air handling scrubbers, filters and purifiers - it can be expensive but these work when installed, filtering and capturing small particle sized virus down to 3-5 microns. Some smaller than that. These should have been on the AC systems in these places anyway and before SARS-CoV-2. I suspect you'll see them installed as part of the CDC's willingness to lift their no-sail order. Finally, any success the lines have in keeping the spread of the virus checked on their ships will depend mostly on passengers taking the potential for spread of the virus seriously aboard the ship they are sailing. Containment can be done and is done already for Norovirus. It can be done for SARS-CoV-2. Mitigation measures like I mention above are fine and we'll see them and probably more but the most effective preventative of virus spread is human behavior. If you aren't convinced this is a dangerous virus with the potential of creating serious illness and death and believe you can flaunt any mitigation measures put in place by the lines, please don't cruise. This isn't like going to the main dining room where some guests are wearing formal attire with a ball cap, no shirt, no shoes and shorts, expecting to be seated and served, because you can and don't like to be told what to do on vacation. Flaunting COVID-19 mitigation measures the lines are likely to put in place will surely shut the lines back down if such action causes a COVID-19 outbreak on any ship...... and it will. So, now being properly informed, what mitigation measures are you willing to live with if you want to cruise?
  12. What are you willing to abide by in terms of mitigation and containment measures for COVID-19? Before you think about that or post an answer, let's make sure we understand the risks of becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2 getting to, embarking and debarking from and living aboard a cruise ship. If you've been reading any kind of medical news available to the lay public or, if like me, you're studying the medical literature on SARS-CoV-2, you will know that the the greatest risk of transmission comes from person-to-person, airborne droplets 5 microns or greater in size expelled by an infected person talking, singing, sneezing or coughing. The virus is known to be carried in aerosols that, by definition, are smaller than 5 microns and can be as small as 1-3 microns. The kicker here is that research indicates that the virions (components of the virus capable of infecting another person) are of insufficient amounts to cause infections in healthy persons with competent immune systems. That means plumbing or AC systems aboard ship are not likely to be spreading the virus around the ship. Let's let that ride for a moment because we do know that there are at risk populations that will mount a less than robust immune response from exposure to the virus. These folks will be sickened by aerosolized SARS-CoV-2 where others won't, some seriously (but, less than 5%). If you are in one of those groups, cruising before a vaccine is widely available becomes riskier. You could be susceptible to infection from both droplets or low viral load aerosols. If you are not, your risk of getting infected getting to your cruise ship, embarking, sailing and debarking then getting back home is not high considering the mitigation measures already in-place and a 75% compliance rate. You might get minor symptoms. You might not get sick at all if you pay attention and do the things the travel and leisure industry is counting on us to do so they can operate safely. In the case of cruise lines, operate at all! If you are a healthy person, some healthy people even over 55 and even 65 (not over 80) and pay attention, your risk of getting seriously ill and dying is very low. The chance of dying while operating a motor vehicle and having an accident is about 16/100 (13%) The case fatality rate for COVID is thought to be around 6% or about 6/100. One important point I want to make is that becoming infected by touching a contaminated surface with your hands and then transferring sufficient virions to cause COVID-19 (the disease from SARs-CoV-2) to your nose, eyes or mouth by touching them is low risk. There are 5 steps in that process and it is easy to interrupt the transfer at any of those points (e.g., wash your hands, don't touch your face). There appears to be an over-emphasis on this means of transmission when, in fact, it's not the major transmission pathway - not even close. Airborne transmission is. Still, we'll see an increased focus on hand washing by various measures to make it easy for passengers to do that. Based on the foregoing, the best mitigation protocols involve social distancing and wearing a mask when you can't - I can make the case for wearing a mask everywhere in enclosed places and even outdoors but it would take too many keyboard strokes and this is long enough. Trust me, masks are good at protecting against one infected person spreading it to others. Protection is even better and approaches 95% if both the infected person is wearing a mask and so are other people within 6 feet (2m) intermingling in public spaces. The scientific and medical evidence that supports that statement is overwhelming. I am not saying virus mitigation measures involving cleaning surfaces and sanitation aren't needed - they are and can be increased - but all the talk of this, a seeming focus on it, is less important than distancing and masking. Requiring masks in public areas, to include casinos, bars, restaurants and entertainment venues doesn't need to be a deal breaker and definitely isn't for me. In fact, I believe they are crucial mitigation measures for cruise ships. I doubt cruise lines will mandate them with those mandates enforced by staff. They'll be recommended, and friendly reminders to mask up in certain settings will come from officers and information posted about the ship. I'm fine with the kinds of distancing we're already seeing mandated by airlines (not necessarily enforced) in our local restaurants and casinos in Vegas as they re-open. I'd add that capacity limits to shipboard bars, restaurants, gyms, casinos, theaters, (shows) that allow for distancing are appropriate. This is easy to do and not terribly inconvenient if you're flexible, adaptable and willing to recognize humans are vulnerable to this thing when there is zero immunity to it. Folks worry about enclosed spaces, especially gyms or ride studios where people are huffing and puffing. Mitigation in these places can take the form of air handling scrubbers, filters and purifiers - it can be expensive but these work when installed, filtering and capturing small particle sized virus down to 3-5 microns. Some smaller than that. These should have been on the AC systems in these places anyway and before SARS-CoV-2. I suspect you'll see them installed as part of the CDC's willingness to lift their no-sail order. Finally, any success the lines have in keeping the spread of the virus checked on their ships will depend mostly on passengers taking the potential for spread of the virus seriously aboard the ship they are sailing. Containment can be done and is done already for Norovirus. It can be done for SARS-CoV-2. Mitigation measures like I mention above are fine and we'll see them and probably more but the most effective preventative of virus spread is human behavior. If you aren't convinced this is a dangerous virus with the potential of creating serious illness and death and believe you can flaunt any mitigation measures put in place by the lines, please don't cruise. This isn't like going to the main dining room where some guests are wearing formal attire with a ball cap, no shirt, no shoes and shorts, expecting to be seated and served, because you can and don't like to be told what to do on vacation. Flaunting COVID-19 mitigation measures the lines are likely to put in place will surely shut the lines back down if such action causes a COVID-19 outbreak on any ship...... and it will. So, now being properly informed, what mitigation measures are you willing to live with if you want to cruise?
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