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US lawmakers press CDC for cruise industry COVID-19 response records

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House transportation leaders asked for a response from CDC/HHS by Dec. 23
The US House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation are pressing for records from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention related to the COVID-19 response on cruise ships.

The records were requested more than seven months ago in connection with the Committee's investigation of how Carnival Corp. dealt with the outbreak.

While the request was put to CDC, the lawmakers said they understand it is being handled by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) instead.

Lack of response 'completely unacceptable'

In their letters to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Director Robert Redfield on Thursday, Committee Chair Peter DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon, and Subcommittee Chair Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat from New York, stated that the lack of response was completely unacceptable.

'Months ago, our staff was told that CDC/HHS had identified an estimated 7,000 documents that were potentially responsive to our May 1, 2020, records request ... To date, the CDC/HHS has provided the Committee with a single records production on July 10, 2020, five months ago, of just 180 pages of records.'

DeFazio and Maloney asked the leaders of HHS and CDC to respond to a series of specific questions about the status of the Committee’s records requests by Dec. 23.

Carnival has handed over more than 10,000 pages of records

'We would note that we have received more than 10,000 pages of records from Carnival, and the US Coast Guard has provided us with seven productions of records in the same time period,' DeFazio and Maloney added.

Expressing concern that Carnival and its nine cruise brands were ignoring the public health threat of the pandemic in their public-facing marketing materials, DeFazio and Maloney initiated their records request in May.

Maloney followed up with the CDC Oct. 13, requesting additional records after media reports alleged the White House intervened in the CDC’s effort to extend the no-sail order for the cruise industry.

 

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