Statement of Commissioner Louis Sola: Urging Governors to Vaccinate Cruise Ship Crews
Commissioner Louis E. Sola today urged governors of four states to vaccinate seafarers working on cruise ships as a way to revitalize the tourism industry and help expedite the Nation’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The text of letters sent to the Governors of California, Maryland, New York, and Washington states, is as follows:
I write this to request your assistance in restarting an economic engine that will bring relief to suffering small businesses, farmers, and members of organized labor in your state.
Last year at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic the Federal Maritime Commission appointed me Fact Finding Officer to determine the economic impact of the cessation of cruise activity on our nation’s ports and port communities. As you are no doubt aware, in March of 2020 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a No Sail Order suspending cruise activity into and out of United States ports. While there were limited exceptions for small passenger vessels, the Order essentially curtailed all activity dealing a significant economic loss to both the nation and your state.
I am pleased to note, however, that there is light at the end of the tunnel. This month the CDC issued guidelines to begin the resumption of cruise activity pursuant to an earlier issued conditional sail order. While far from perfect, the recent guidelines provide hope. Clearly this is a work in progress and some guidelines may be modified, however, the requirement that a significant majority of a vessel’s crew must be vaccinated will remain for the foreseeable future.
This is where your assistance is vitally needed. As you plan your administration’s next steps in the battle against this devastating pandemic, I encourage you to consider authorizing the vaccination of seafarers aboard passenger vessels that call upon your ports once a surplus of serum is available. Having already recognized the essential nature of port workers earlier in vaccine distribution, this move is the next logical step. Although many of the crew members may be foreign nationals, they interact with U.S. workers at every U.S. port of call. Helping to vaccinate these crew members will help reduce the vector of transmission and facilitate the return of a valuable income source for your citizens.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Louis E. Sola
Louis E. Sola is a Commissioner with the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission. The thoughts and comments expressed here are their own and do not necessarily represent the position of the Commission.