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CDC rebukes Trump, torpedoes cruise industry
Michael Shannon.jpg

Here’s a useful tip for any industrialist who finds himself crossways with a federal regulatory agency. Under no circumstances attempt to enlist the help of President Trump. Thinking the president has any control over federal agencies is dangerously naive.

If you don’t believe me, believe the cruise ship industry.

Axios reports, “Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, was overruled when he pushed to extend a ‘no-sail order’ on passenger cruises into next year.”

Axios terms this legitimate action on the part of elected officials the “undermining of Redfield.” The real question is how can one “undermine” the director of an agency with a monopoly on Flu Manchu tests who produced a faulty test for the virus during a worldwide pandemic?

How is it possible to besmirch the reputation of an agency director who brought us “15 Days to Flatten the Curve”? Not to mention the wear-a-mask Hokey Pokey.

But Axios soldiers on. According to these leftist stenographers this matters because, “Cruise ships were the sites of some of the most severe early coronavirus outbreaks, before the industry shut down in March.”

Only that’s not true. On Princess Plague ship, Diamond Princess there were a total of 3,711 passengers and crew aboard. After the disease was detected the ship was put under an enforced quarantine.

The general consensus is the so-called quarantine was a FEMA-sized disaster. Wired quotes Kentaro Iwata, an infection control specialist at Kobe University, who said the effort “violated all infection control principles.” Yet the aftermath wasn’t a disaster.

The ship was effectively an infection Petri dish for the Wuhan Flu, with much more exposure to the disease than would normally be expected. A total of 705 were infected. That’s an infection rate of only 19 percent after hanging around the Contagion Buffet for weeks. 

To put that in context, the Diamond Princess worst case scenario for infection was less than 10 points higher than the U.S. flu infection rate of 11 percent, which is held down because 45 percent of the population gets a yearly flu shot.

The recovery rate for Wufluenza is even better now at 99.75 percent, or 3 deaths per 1,000.

The recovery rate for industries who cross the bureaucracy is much, much lower. 

The CDC has been fighting the Trump administration since 2017 when it was ordered to quit using certain leftist words in public documents. As one CDC insider remarked to The Hill, “Are you kidding? In my experience, we’ve never had any pushback from an ideological standpoint.”

When Trump told Redfield to stand down, the CDC in essence said you may have the president’s permission, but you don’t have ours.

Cruise Critic noted that the CDC “lifted its long-standing No-Sail Order ...But after a weekend of leafing through the [new rules], Cruise Critic staffers and long-time readers have more questions than answers.”

Which should be a lesson to naive business owners who think President Trump has any control over politicized government agencies.

CDC pandemic panic-mongers demand cruise line crews be certified WuFlu-free, conduct “simulated voyages” and test passengers for the Kung Flu before they board the ship and before they disembark on their return to the U.S.

The catch is there are no details explaining the rules and procedures for meeting any of these mandatory requirements. Every time Cruise Critic asked for clarification, CDC bureaucrats repeated the same mantra, “This will be outlined in future technical instructions and orders.”

This makes it impossible for cruise ship lines to plan ahead and prepare ships and crew for the experience of sailing on a hospital ship. This means Redfield’s edict banning any cruise until February 2021 is essentially still in effect, in defiance of Trump’s order.

Passengers are even more in the dark.

They know instead of sneeze guards hovering over the buffet, they’ll now be wearing the sneeze guards, but that’s about it. Who pays for Flu Manchu testing? If you’re positive on the return leg, are you quarantined? Who pays for that? Will airlines let you delay your flight? Will face masks be required the whole time you’re on board?

None of that uncertainty is conducive to booking a cruise now or in the future.

The common-sense approach would not involve trying to prevent any transmission of the virus. Airlines certainly are not required to take that approach. Instead the CDC should recommend passengers over the age of 75 and the morbidly obese avoid cruising - eliminating about 50 percent of the potential market - along with people suffering from respiratory conditions. Everyone else is free to sail.

That’s not an option for the control-freaks at the CDC. Cruise Critic finally asked the obvious question, “Does the CDC really want cruising to start at all?”

The answer is obviously, No!

Michael Shannon is a commentator and public relations consultant. He can be reached at