Port Canaveral CEO discusses COVID cases on cruise ships

Surge in cases not slowing down port operations, Capt. John Murray says

PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. – The Port Canaveral CEO Capt. John Murray said during a news conference Wednesday that the recent spike in COVID cases is not “slowing things down” at the busy port.

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Murray’s remarks come nearly a week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its travel health notice on COVID-19 and cruising amid a surge in cases nationwide due to the omicron variant.

“The CDC announcement, the level four announcement — if you follow the CDC website to where those announcements are, it falls right in line with every other country in the world, basically. Ireland’s on the list. Germany’s on the list. They’re all level four so cruising is just one more country, so to speak, that’s on the level four list — so it really doesn’t, in my view, mean that much,” Murray said.

The CDC said the threat of contracting or spreading the virus on cruise ships is now at its highest level.

“This is standard fare for the CDC since the beginning of the pandemic,” Murray said.

All 10 cruise ships based at Port Canaveral fall under the CDC’s yellow status which indicates recent COVID-19 cases.

“There’s been a lot of media (attention) about the CDC color-coded list,” Murray said. “If you look at that list and actually understand what it means — one crew member on a ship triggers a shift from green to yellow (status) — one crew member having a COVID diagnosis. It’s .01% of the passenger community (with a COVID diagnosis) will trigger the investigation. So if you’ve got 5,000 people on the ship, that’s five cases, bam — now the whole system under investigation. So you know all of the hype about Navy ships being investigated? They’ve all got a case or two onboard — or maybe more, maybe less — but they’re under that threshold, and the threshold is so low it doesn’t take much to exceed it.”

Murray said that the port had seen strong numbers through the holiday. He also argued that a cruise ship may be safer than other public areas, because of the COVID protocols in place.

“You’re safer probably on the cruise ship than you are in a grocery store,” Murray said. “One-hundred percent of the crews have been vaccinated, 100% Of the passengers have been vaccinated. So any kind of a breakout case is going to be, by default, it’s going to be mild.”

About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined ClickOrlando.com in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.