State official asks White House to stop cruise ships from docking in Hawaii over COVID-19

Coronavirus

HONOLULU(KHON2)–Should the government stop cruise ships from docking in Hawaii to prevent the spread of coronavirus? Lieutenant Governor Josh Green thinks so. And he said he put a formal request into the White House.

A cruise ship docked in Honolulu Harbor Saturday. Not a welcome site given the hundreds of confirmed cases of the novel coronoavirus on cruise lines. And there are nearly a dozen more cruise ships scheduled to dock in Honolulu this month.

“I feel very badly for (cruise ships), but our public health system and our people’s health, especially our kupuna, has to come first,” Green said.

Green is taking a stand, trying to temporarily ban cruise ships from docking in the islands. His decision comes one day after Hawaii’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 and the ongoing struggles the industry is facing with the virus.

“I sent a request over for consideration to the White House, the liaison at the Department of Health and the CDC,” Green said.

“I look at it this way. It’s kind of like an athlete that doesn’t want to come off the field but they’re hurt. They’re hurt right now and if they don’t come off the field, they could get severely hurt for a long time. Meanwhile everybody around them could also have a problem. That’s what I think the cruise ships are facing right now and our people are a little scared. So until we can test comprehensively, it probably has to happen.”

Green said the federal government should make a decision by midweek.

For now, fear continues to spread for those who came in contact with visitors from the Grand Princess.

On Friday, 21 people on-board tested positive for COVID-19.

The ship is still in San Francisco but made multiple stops in Hawaii the last week of February. Officials said the one person confirmed to have coronavirus in Hawaii also has ties to the ship.

“Potentially we could have been exposed to somebody with the virus,” Josh Morris said.

Morris works for a tour bus company in Hilo that shuttled many of the passengers on board the Grand Princess.

“We didn’t know that there was any possible coronavirus people on there. So we just went about our day, had a fun day, took people around town and stuff like that,”

Morris found out about it on the news Friday and said no health officials have reached out to him or the company he works for so far.

“I’m assuming that (officials) probably will try to track down some of the people that were in close contact. Nobody has been in contact with us as of yet,” Morris said.

He has no idea what will happen next.

“Everybody’s a little on edge whether or not they’re going to be stopping the ship coming in. On one aspect, it’s logical or common sense to stop at one point. But it is the height of the season so we know it’s going to hurt everybody. It’s going to be hard on the economy, but you got to do what you got to do and that’s try to keep everybody safe.”

Eric and Debbie Pagan were quarantined for 28 days on the Diamond Princess.

The ship had more than 700 confirmed cases of the virus. The Pagans did not get it.

“Because we lived in it and we were in the bulk of it we know that it’s something that we ourselves as individuals can control. But we have to stay proactive,” Debbie Pagan said.

“To me safety should precede everything else. You do safety first,” Eric Pagan said.

KHON reached out to Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America Line and Hapag Lloyd Cruises for comment but they did not respond yet.

All three have cruise lines have ships scheduled to dock in Honolulu this week.

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