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Senators Call for Congressional Investigation Into Carnival Corporation after Coronavirus Deaths & Infections

Even though tens of thousands of its crew members remain stranded aboard ships, Carnival Corporation announced plans to resume operations as early as August. Senators stress need for cruise industry hearings to ensure safety & health of passengers and crew members ahead of cruise lines resuming operations

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the Subcommittee on Security, sent a letter to the Committee’s Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) expressing deep concerns about the Carnival Cruise Line, a subsidiary of the Carnival Corporation & PLC, announcement that the company plans to resume operations in August.

Reports indicate that the Carnival Corporation continued sailing its ships even after knowing the risks this would pose to its passengers and crew, resulting in at least 39 deaths and more than 1,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases in connection with its vessels. Nearly 80,000 of the cruise line industry’s crew members remain stranded aboard ships. The cruise line’s negligence has already sparked U.S. House of Representatives and Australian police force investigations.

The Senators urged the Committee to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the Carnival Corporation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They also stressed the need to hold hearings with cruise line industry leaders and public health experts ahead of the cruise industry resuming operations.

“We feel strongly that the Committee has an obligation to launch its own investigation to ensure that Carnival is held responsible for its response during these unprecedented times,” the Senators wrote. “We ask that the Committee’s investigation is broad and comprehensive as the situation continues to evolve. The American traveling public deserve to know the full truth.”

Blumenthal is the lead sponsor of the Cruise Passenger Protection Act, which he has introduced repeatedly since 2013. The legislation would build on the passenger safety measures signed into law in the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA). Among other provisions, the bill would strengthen a number of critical medical standards aboard cruise ships, including ensuring the presence of a physician to treat any passenger in the event of an emergency, the appropriate number of qualified medical staff to treat the number of passengers on board, and that the passengers are aware of the location of the vessel’s medical facilities and the appropriate steps they should follow during a medical emergency.

This bicameral, bipartisan legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) in the Senate and U.S. Representatives Doris Matsui (D-CA), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), and John Garamendi (D-CA) in the House.

The full text of the letter is available here. The text of the legislation is available here.