Leading Cruise Lines Face Lawsuits Following Handling of COVID-19 Pandemic
Two of the world's leading cruise lines are facing scrutiny and potential legal consequences due to their handling of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the coronavirus responsible for the severe respiratory disease COVID-19.
Royal Caribbean faces a wrongful death lawsuit after a 27-year-old crew member on the Celebrity Infinity died from the virus and two others were airlifted off of the Oasis of the Seas vessel, reported USA Today at the time.
"It's very clear that the entire cruise industry dramatically mishandled the entirety of this outbreak, not only as it relates to passengers, but also as to crew members," maritime attorney Michael Winkelman, who represents the man's family, told CBS News.
"I think had they taken the steps that pretty much every single person around the world was taking, I don't think he would be dead today. Had they implemented proper social distancing quarantines, given proper masks to everybody, I think that Pujiyoko [the man] would still be alive today."
As of May 4, the Miami Herald reported that at least three crew members from the ship have died as a result of the virus.
Meanwhile, Congress has launched an investigation into Carnival Cruise Line's response to the coronavirus pandemic. Bloomberg reported that the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure is investigating the company's handling of the outbreak as more than 1,500 cases have been confirmed from aboard the company's ships and dozens of passengers and crew members have died.
The committee sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Coast Guard and Carnival Corps. Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald has requested internal documents and has future plans to address concerns as cruise ships gear up to continue halted operations as early as August, reported NBC.
"Long before the COVID-19 pandemic began to race around the world, affecting local communities, churches, cities, homes, hospitals, and cruise ships sailing at sea, the cruise industry had a problem managing, containing, and responding to public health outbreaks," wrote Chairman Peter DeFazio, adding that at least ten norovirus outbreaks occurred on cruise ships last year.
At the height of the pandemic outbreak, the CDC issued a no sail order for all cruise ships after at least 10 vessels reported crew or passengers that had either tested positive or exhibited symptoms in line with those related to COVID-19. Additionally, the agency said that it was aware of 20 anchored or at-port ships in the U.S. with known or suspected infection with members on board. Crews required to stay onboard are suggested to have twice-daily temperature checks reported and recorded by the ship's medical center, which is required to submit weekly data to "conduct surveillance for COVID-19 among crew who remain onboard cruise ships."
On April 9, the CDC renewed the No Sail Order until July 24 under the conclusion that cruise ship travel "may continue to introduce, transmit, or spread COVID-19."
"Cruise ships are a fertile breeding ground for infectious diseases due to their environmental conditions and physical structure," wrote DeFazio, citing a 2018 study published in the Journal of Travel Medicine that found that the nature of cruise ships facilitates the "rapid spread of highly infectious agents." Three years ago, a book on cruise ship tourism stated that the industry was lacking in its proactive approach in crisis management and recommended prioritizing and preparing for emerging health issues, yet a report by Bloomberg published earlier this year found that the industry did not heed such advice.
Executives have until May 15 to deliver the requested documents and records.
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A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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