Seattle — With the media uproar in Kirkland, WA clearly showing that those not infected with COVID-19 do not want the sick quarantined in their cities, the increasingly urgent question remains: where should we quarantine our infected? Physicians tending patients in traditional hospitals run the risk of infecting their families and others without proper access to personal protective equipment (PPE). We need additional assurance that the risk of transmission can be properly managed throughout this emergency by repurposing existing resources.
As most cruise companies have already canceled their voyages due to COVID-19, the vacant cruise liners offer an excellent resource for sick and at-risk individuals. Alternatively, high-risk patients could be kept in hospitals and the ship could be used for non-infected patients. This effort would augment existing medical deployments already in effect.
More recently, NBC reported the following on the USNS Comfort, which was recently deployed by Trump:
“Bound for New York Harbor, [the ship] is currently undergoing maintenance somewhere on the east coast and there are no medical personnel on board. The other ship, the USNS Mercy, is also being spruced-up and lacks a medical crew. It was not immediately known where the Mercy would be deployed.”
Ships would not need to be filled to full capacity, and a buffer zone between patients could be kept in order to minimize the additional spread of the disease. Further, healthcare workers quarters could be segregated onto different floors, allowing for additional separation. Best of all, patients would not need to be quarantined within any particular city. The ships could be stocked with medical supplies and then dock as needed.
In addition to the health benefits, this plan offers the cruise companies a way to earn money even as vacations are canceled. The federal government should provide the cruise lines with money using the Defense Appropriations Act. But as a caveat of this service, the cruise ships must be registered in the United States. These companies cannot be licensed in other countries for tax purposes and then come to the American government for a bailout!