COVID-19 cases and deaths in the United States continue to plummet. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, both have dropped to their lowest levels in nearly a year, and the number of people vaccinated continues to grow.
As of May 27, 2021, almost 133 million people in the U.S. had been fully vaccinated and some 63 percent of all adults had received at least one vaccination. Nearly 28 million who contracted the disease have recovered. These encouraging trends come as many people are making plans to travel, gather with friends and family, and resume other activities they had avoided since the start of the pandemic. On the negative side of the ledger, active COVID-19 cases remain high at just over 34 million; nearly 611,000 Americans so far have perished from the disease.
In an effort to protect themselves and their shipmates, Seafarers across the country continue lining up to get the vaccinations against the disease. As reported in the previous edition of the Seafarers LOG, the hiring hall in Houston in early May hosted a free COVID-19 vaccination drive. Working in concert with a local health care provider and a Harris County Commissioner from the second precinct, union officials helped get dozens of Seafarers vaccinated. A second free vaccination drive took place at the hall May 27 with some 60 people (active members and dependents) taking advantage of the offering and receiving the vaccine.
At press time, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that, until it can amend an order from earlier this year, it will “exercise its enforcement discretion to not require wearing a mask in outdoor areas of transportation conveyances or while outdoors at transportation hubs. The Coast Guard will no longer enforce mask requirements in outdoor areas of maritime transportation conveyances and hubs.”
Meanwhile, officials at the SIU-affiliated Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education in Piney Point, Maryland have revised and updated the school’s rules and procedures regarding COVID-19. These rules, as currently constituted, include allowing fully vaccinated individuals to leave the base. According to the updated guidance from the school, “Fully vaccinated persons are those who have received the second dose (Pfizer, Moderna) at least two weeks prior or the single dose Johnson & Johnson at least two weeks prior. Fully vaccinated persons must bring a copy (paper or digital) of their vaccination card to admissions to receive a badge. The badge will allow those who are fully vaccinated to leave campus and be allowed to return. All student badges will be checked by security prior to entering or leaving the campus.”
The guidance continues, “When inside of any buildings and in common areas on campus, you must wear a protective face covering/mask which is secured behind both ears or head. You will not be required to wear face masks when in your hotel room/personal space or outside. Face coverings that are NOT acceptable include bandanas, T-shirts and any covering with inappropriate art, words and references. In the event you do not have a proper face covering/mask, they will be available for sale in the sea chest.”
Campus-wide social distancing remains in place. For now, no spouses, other family members or guests are allowed on campus. Assigned meal times also remain in place.
Elsewhere, Bloomberg’s daily newsletter Supply Lines has reported that ports around the U.S. are extending a lifeline to thousands of seafarers (mostly foreign workers) by rolling out vaccines for them. These workers have spent the pandemic isolated aboard ships, helping ensure goods kept moving across a battered global economy.
From Boston to Houston and Los Angeles, and even in smaller trade gateways like Gulfport, Mississippi, local health officials and nonprofits are boarding container ships, tankers and other cargo carriers to administer COVID-19 shots or, when possible, shuttling crews to nearby pharmacies and clinics.
The preferred vaccine for maritime workers: the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot because they’re often docked for just a day or two.
In Los Angeles and nearby Long Beach, California, home of the nation’s largest port complex, a vaccination program that began in mid-May has reached about 500 visiting sailors on 11 container ships as of late June.
Similar efforts are getting under way at nearly 50 U.S. seaports, according to the North American Maritime Ministry Association.
Moreover, as of June 10, at least two-dozen countries have opened to U.S. travelers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The travel website AFAR is maintaining a one-page list of such nations at the following link:
That post includes at least two other links, both for U.S. State Department pages, that Seafarers may want to bookmark. This web address includes the latest travel guidance for U.S. citizens:
This one features country-specific information: