Dr Stephen Ostroff, a former acting commissioner of the FDA, part of the Healthy Sail group, said they recommended that cruise passengers be tested before arriving at the ship and then again before boarding.
“The only thing you want to make sure is that the virus doesn’t spread there in the first place,” Dr Ostroff said.
Dr Ostroff acknowledged that passengers exposed to the virus en route to the ship would not necessarily test negative, but could be contagious. He also said that the group’s other recommendations, such as allowing fewer passengers, requiring a mask to be worn and installing improved air filtration systems, are aimed at limiting the spread of the virus on a ship if a passenger is infected.
Brian Morgenstern, the deputy White House press secretary, denied that the administration’s cruise plans were politically motivated. “The president, vice president and task force are following science and data to implement policies that protect public health and also facilitate the safe reopening of our country,” he said.
Dr Redfield is in a precarious position after weeks of public confrontations with the White House.
He told a colleague on Friday that he was concerned that Dr Scott W. Atlas, one of Mr. Trump’s top coronavirus advisers, was providing the president with misleading information, according to an NBC reporter who surprised Dr. Redfield’s phone conversation on a commercial plane.
The incident follows Mr Trump’s reprimand to the director earlier this month, after Dr Redfield testified at a Senate hearing that a vaccine would not be widely available until mid-September. next year and that masks were perhaps even more important than a vaccine to curb. the spread of the virus. Mr Trump told reporters later in the day that he believed the director had “made a mistake.” A vaccine would go “immediately to the general public,” the president said, and “by no means will it be as late as the doctor said.
The CDC, under the leadership of Dr Redfield, has received harsh criticism from scientists over its handling of the pandemic, starting with its botched rollout of test kits last spring. This month, the New York Times reported that political appointees within the Health Department had enforced CDC guidelines – despite objections from the agency’s own scientists – claiming that people without symptoms do not did not need to be tested for the coronavirus, even though they had close contact. with an infected person. The agency then updated those guidelines to recommend testing, in agreement with public health experts.