UPDDATE :Editor’s Note: This article was published on March 2, 2020. Click here for the latest Coronavirus news and cruise updates.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis confirmed over the weekend that the first cases of COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus, have reached the Sunshine State. The Florida Department of Health announced that two adults, one in Hillsborough County and another in neighboring Manatee County, have tested positive for the virus. The Hillsborough case seems to be from the person’s recent travel to Italy, however the Manatee case does not seem to be travel-related. No other information about their condition was made available by the State or Center for Disease Control.
The screening process has been smooth and wait times have not been impacted. There are no plans to close Port Tampa Bay and cruise and cargo operations will continue, as usual.
Governor DeSantis provided more details in a press conference today.
Gov. Ron DeSantis: First coronavirus patient has no travel history to China or other areas with coronavirus outbreak. Second patient has travel history to impacted areas in Italy. pic.twitter.com/Zoed0PpPF7
— WSVN 7 News (@wsvn) March 2, 2020
Port Tampa Bay Coronavirus Statement
As Hillsborough County is home to Port Tampa Bay, the news sparked concern among those with cruises scheduled in the coming weeks. When reached for comment, Port Tampa Bay Director of Communications Lisa Wolf-Chason explained that as of now, no cruises are cancelled and screening procedures set forth by CLIA, Centers for Disease Control, the Coast Guard and Florida Department of Health are already in place.
Statement from Port Tampa Bay:
Well before the presumed confirmed positive case of COVID-19 in Hillsborough County, each cruise line implemented procedures for monitoring passengers and reducing risk. Screenings will continue to ensure passenger wellbeing and safety. The screening process has been smooth and wait times have not been impacted. There are no plans to close Port Tampa Bay and cruise and cargo operations will continue, as usual.
Tampa Bay Cruising as Usual
The precautions are not expected to impact embarkation times so, for the time being, cruisers need not alter their usual embarkation routine. The best defense against the virus remains simple precaution: washing your hands regularly, avoiding those who are sick and using disinfecting products during your regular cleaning routines.
Cruisers scheduled to cruise from Tampa in the coming weeks should continue monitoring the news for more updates about the port, their cruise line and the best practices for limiting the spread of the virus. If you’re scheduled to cruise from Tampa, let us know your thoughts in the comments below!