The Galveston Wharves Board of Trustees remains vigilant in taking precautions to protect workers from the coronavirus and is encouraging our port partners to do the same.

The port staff continuously monitors the coronavirus situation with its multi-agency infectious disease response team and is prepared to respond as the situation evolves.

We engaged that team on Thursday, immediately after Carnival Cruise Line confirmed that a crew member tested positive for COVID-19. The ship sailed from Galveston on March 8 and returned March 14. On that same day, the ship sailed with crew only to Gulfport, Mississippi, where it remains docked during the cruise industry’s voluntary suspension of all U.S. sailings.

Port staff promptly contacted the U.S. Coast Guard, which is the local authority on port coronavirus response. The Coast Guard confirmed it was contacted about the case Wednesday and that no action was needed by the Port of Galveston.

Port staff is gathering additional information to determine what, if any, additional measures the team may recommend.

In an effort to combat the spread of the virus and ensure port safety, we’re following our Galveston County Health Department and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations by taking the following actions:

• Enforcing social distancing

• Deep cleaning throughout our facilities

• Officing from home if possible

• Ensuring our gate guards and law enforcement are exercising recommended safeguards when dealing with personnel and port visitors, as well as limiting unnecessary personal contact

A BUSY WATERFRONT

While our first priority is the health and safety of waterfront workers, the Galveston Wharves and its business partners continue to provide services essential to our regional and national economies and transportation infrastructure. These activities include cargo shipments, lay ship services, routine maintenance and waterfront construction projects.

On Tuesday, the day the Galveston County stay-at-home order was issued, cargo ships carrying grain, wind tower components, bananas and vehicles were in port. Seven lay ships also called on the port for short-term services, such as supplies and inspections.

Port cargo and lay-dockage activities for the first quarter of 2020 have continued to generate port revenues and jobs for port partners. To date, more than 750 wind tower pieces have moved through the port. The port also forecasts a record-breaking quarter for lay-dockage revenue, with 93 ship calls generating almost $1.3 million in port revenues.

Four of the five cruise ships that homeport in Galveston are docked at the two cruise terminals and sailing periodically with only crew members onboard while daily maintenance is performed during this cruise suspension period.

Port staff also is taking advantage of this cruise suspension to spruce up the two port-owned cruise terminals with painting, flooring and minor repair projects. Our engineering team continues to oversee west port improvement projects to prepare for the relocation of cargo business from the east end of the port, as detailed in our strategic master plan.

During these uncertain times, I encourage my staff and all of our port partners to be diligent in following recommended prevention practices. By doing so, I hope we can all stay healthy, continue to work and support our families.

Rodger Rees is the director and CEO of the Port of Galveston.

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