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Cruise Ships Sailed On Despite The Coronavirus. Thousands Paid The Price

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Charles Trainor Jr.
/
Miami Herald
A patient is evacuated from the Zaandam cruise ship, owned by Miami-based Carnival Corp. The ship had people with COVID-19 on board and spent 12 days at sea before docking at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale on April 2, 2020.

As the coronavirus spread across the world in early 2020, millions of people found themselves in what is now understood to be one of the most dangerous places during a pandemic: a cruise ship.

Just how many passengers and crew got sick or died is impossible to know. No global health body or regulatory agency is known to betracking those statistics. And the cruise industry — which downplayed the dangers to consumers and kept sending out ships despite outbreaks on board and warnings from public health officials — has largely stayed silent about the toll.

So the Miami Herald began tracking outbreaks on board. Already the numbers are alarming. As of publication, reporters found that at least 2,592 people have tested positive for COVID-19 during or directly after a cruise and at least 65 peoplehave died, according to a database built by the Herald. That is far more than the industry or public health officials have acknowledged. It’s also likely not the complete picture.

The Herald found COVID-19 cases linked to at least 54 ocean-goingcruise ships — roughly one-fifth of the global ocean cruise fleet. That number could grow as more cases are reported.

Read more at our news partner, the Miami Herald.