A shipful of doctors and lawyers hit a medical conference in the remote icy continent, and still came back testing positive.
We’ve been a little dismissive of people who still got on cruise ships during the coronavirus pandemic, but in some cases, they embarked a month before the early March declaration that COVID-19 was a pandemic. They were made to merely sit on board stranded helplessly as their cruise ship hosts (and the CDC) made some frankly terrible decisions.
One such ship was full of doctors, dentists, and a few attorneys and related healthcare industry bigwigs attending something called an Unconventional Convention that held a professional retreat in the seemingly safe and remote continent of Antarctica. But as the world went to hell around them, their luxury vessel MS Roald Amundsen bounced around Chile and the Falkland Islands, generally getting rejected, or allowed to port only for a brief time.
And that’s when a well-known Sacramento attorney’s wife likely contracted the virus, and passed it on to him, according to the Sacramento Bee. Defense attorney Bill Portanova and his wife Shauna are now back at home and under quarantine. But during a short disembark in the Falkland Islands town of Stanley, they crossed paths with passengers of the ill-fated Holland America Zaandam, among whom the virus was already running amok (and had dead passengers onboard!).
“It could have come from their ship, although our ship quarantined itself for a full 14 days after leaving Stanley and nobody had it,” Portanova told the Bee. “But we watched the horror in the news that was unfolding with it, so we worried.”
The UK’s boobs-and-occasional-news publication The Sun has a pretty good timeline of the Amundsen’s saga, published when the ship was still at sea in mid-March. A text from Portanova at that time said the ship had made arrangements to dock, but “some locals got wind of the plan and there was some kind of a protest, so the deal fell through."
It’s an obvious irony that you put a bunch of doctors on a ship, and many of them end up getting sick. Despite President Trump’s questionable declaration that “We can't let the cruise lines go out of business,” that niche industry has shown itself to repeatedly be a public health menace for years. If nothing else, cruise lines really ought to develop better safety protocols before we spend taxpayer money to keep them afloat.
Image: Henrique Setim via Unsplash