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Due to the coronavirus pandemic, some cruise ship workers are having a difficult time getting home.
A worker on the Holland America ship MS Oosterdam says that she and others have been stuck on the boat since the last passengers disembarked on March 14. The ship is currently docked at the Port of San Pedro in Los Angeles, Calif., but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reportedly won’t allow crewmembers to disembark.
Melinda Mann, from Georgia, spoke with Fox 11, saying: “I had actually asked to be released early from my contract because I kind of saw where COVID was heading and I said, ‘Hey can I go home early,’ and they said, ‘Yeah, we'll try to get you off on the 21st of March.’ Well here we are and it's past the 21st of April and I'm still here.”
According to her, the U.S. government won’t allow the crewmembers off the boat based on a decision made by the CDC.
“I’m not sick,” she explained. “I've offered to take a COVID test. I've offered to quarantine for 2 weeks ashore, but the CDC won't let us in, and our ship is trying everything they can to get us home.”
Mann described life on the ship, saying that she spends “21 hours a day” in her cabin, which is around 200 square feet. “I'm allowed out for meals and a quick walking break around the ship,” she said. “I haven't hugged or touched anybody in 45 days.”
According to Mann, things aren’t looking too hopeful. She says she’s been in contact with her senators, the CDC and even the Coast Guard. Unfortunately, no one has apparently been able to help.
“The only way to get out of this,” she explained, “so we have been told, is by an act of Congress, an act of the president, or an act of the courts, so we might be here for the long haul if the CDC doesn't change its mind.”
In a comment obtained by Fox News, a spokesperson for Holland America said, "We are deeply committed to getting our crew members safely home to their families and continue to make progress in their repatriation. Across Carnival Corporation – of which we are a part of -- we continue to disembark hundreds of crew members each day and 20,000 have disembarked in the last month.We are working with CDC to approve our Prevention, Mitigation and Response Plan for COVID-19, which we submitted last week and is an important part of the overall process. We continue to coordinate closely with the CDC on its requirements and regulations for all of our ships operating in U.S. waters that require any crew member remaining on our ships – individuals who have experienced no illness or COVID-19–to be provided with private charter flights and private car transportation to their homes, once it has been determined that we have appropriate approval from the CDC and local authorities to disembark these individuals. Holland America Line has 48 U.S. crew members remaining to be repatriated. International crew are being combined on various other ships by country to return home via ship."