HUD Secretary Ben Carson, a member of the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, on Sunday refused to reveal how the administration is planning to handle the 3,500 passengers aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship that has been hit with a coronavirus outbreak and is scheduled to dock in Oakland, California as early as Sunday afternoon.
During his appearance on ABC’s This Week, Carson was asked by anchor George Stephanopoulos what plan was in place for the ship when it docked as 21 passengers, 19 of which are crew members, have already tested positive for the virus.
“The cruise ship personnel and, as you know, the vice president met with the CEOs of the major cruise ship companies yesterday, and they are coming up with a plan within 72 hours of that meeting,” Carson replied.
“The ship is docking tomorrow,” Stephanopoulos interjected.
“The plan will be in place by that time,” the HUD secretary countered. “But I don’t want to preview the plan right now.”
The ABC News host, meanwhile, declared that Carson should be able to reveal the administration’s plan at this time, prompting Carson to give a rather interesting defense.
“I think it needs to all come from a solitary source,” he said. “We shouldn’t have 16 people saying what the plan is. Particularly when it hasn’t been fully formulated.”
A clearly frustrated Stephanopoulos eventually moved on, but not before noting that Carson was the “president’s representative” on the program.
With coronavirus cases exploding across the globe and causing countries like Italy to institute unprecedented measures in an effort to stop the spread of the disease, President Donald Trump has appeared preoccupied with keeping the public numbers of reported cases in the United States low, which included keeping the Grand Princess at bay.
During a tour of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention facilities in Atlanta last week, Trump explicitly stated that he didn’t want the cruise ship full of American passengers to dock, adding: "I like the numbers being where they are. I don't need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn't our fault.”