COVID-19: Locally, we are flattening the curve

COVID-19: Locally, we are flattening the curve

Today on the Ship Report we look again at the situation in Florida, where the USCG has declined to airlift sick passengers off cruise ships because local medical facilities are flooded with COVID-19 patients. Locally here in Clatsop County, Oregon, our local officials took action early to keep cruise ships out of our local port, long before there were cruise ships offshore here with ill passengers looking to come into port. Our Ship Report hat is off to them for their foresight, and our gratitude goes to local residents who are staying home and helping to flatten the curve of contagion. With your help, we hope to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our small coastal communities, which would quickly be overwhelmed with patients if that happened. The Ship Report message today is: Stay home, stay safe, and keep your neighbors safe as well.

USCG limits air rescues of ill passengers from foreign flag ships

USCG limits air rescues of ill passengers from foreign flag ships

The USCG issued a marine bulletin this week for it’s 7th District, which includes the cruise ship hub of Florida, along with Puerto Rico, Georgia and South Carolina. The temporary change means that if someone needs to be airlifted off a cruise ship because of illness, and that ship is not registered in the U.S. (and most are not for financial reasons), they will consult with a USCG physician and see whether medical facilities on land can handle another patient. Florida has been hit hard by COVID-19 and land based hospitals are struggling to meet demand.

How is international cargo changing with COVID-19?

USCG Coronavirus precautions

I’ve gotten some questions from listeners about ships arriving in the Columbia River from China, and possible Coronavirus risks.

So I contacted our local USCG folks at Air Station Astoria, where the Captain of the Port for the Columbia is located. Here’s their reply:

  • The Coast Guard is supporting nationwide efforts to prevent, protect, and mitigate the spread of the Novel Coronavirus.
  • Vessels carrying passengers that have been to China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) or embarked passengers who have been in China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) within the last 14 days will be denied entry into the United States.
  • The Coast Guard is assessing all Advanced Notice of Arrival Reports from inbound vessels to determine if the vessel has visited a country impacted by the Novel Coronavirus within the last five ports of call.
  • The health and safety of the American people is our top priority.
  • The Coast Guard will review all Advanced Notice of Arrivals from inbound vessels to determine if a vessel has visited a country impacted by the Novel Coronavirus outbreak within its last five ports of call.
  • Vessel representatives are required to report sick or deceased crew or passengers within the last 15 days to the CDC.

We don’t usually get cruise ships here this time of year, so that caveat probably doesn’t apply to us here right now. The trip from China to here takes at least two weeks by cargo ship, so anyone who is not showing symptoms would have enough time to be visibly ill by the time they got here. Vessels are  also being monitored for their last five ports of call before they get here, to assess risks.

Summer safety on the coast

Summer safety on the coast

This month I had a request from the USCG at Air Station Astoria, where they asked if one of their personnel could come on the show and talk about safety, just before the 4th of July holiday weekend. They wanted to let people know about the dangers inherent in living in a dynamic coastal area like the Oregon and Wasington coast, and about the laws regarding fireworks use. I learned some things I didn’t know. For instance, did you know it’s a felony to shoot off a flare for fun? Flares on not fireworks and if you shoot one into the sky and a USCG rescue is launched because of it, you could be charged with a felony and get fined big bucks. So, lots to learn here. The Coast Guard does so much for us, let’s not make them work any harder than they have to. Here is some sage and valuable advice from USCG Petty Officer Trevor Lilburn: