Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Miami-Dade Commissioner "Tired" of Hearing About Coronavirus

I thought they had already made this movie:

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Joe Martinez during an emergency coronavirus meeting yesterday praised county officials for refusing to cancel outdoor events owing to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Then he complained he's sick of hearing about this darn virus already. 
"I'm glad we're not at this point even considering canceling any events," Martinez said from the dais. He joked that his own county commission meeting ought to be canceled too. "Because if not, let's cancel this one. Let's cancel the Legislature. Let's cancel Congress."
The commissioner's comments came after the City of Miami canceled the popular Calle Ocho Festival and organizers nixed the popular events Ultra Music Festival and Winter Music Conference. Multiple commissioners at the meeting, including Rebeca Sosa, whose district includes Miami International Airport, sounded outright uninformed about the virus that could strike their constituents any day now. Sosa, for example, claimed doctors don't know yet if the disease is "airborne" but was swiftly corrected.
But it's not just Florida's local pols who are throwing a hissy  fit. The cruise ship lines are fighting back also.
In the wake of the epidemic, a Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) employee in South Florida tells New Times some managers have asked sales staff to lie to customers about COVID-19 to protect the company's bookings.

These discussions take place every day. And even during our department meetings, managers tell us that it isn't a big deal, that more people die from other things," says the employee, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. "[They're] constantly underestimating it." 
Emails leaked to New Times show that a senior sales manager at NCL's Miami office came up with canned responses for the sales team to use if potential customers expressed concerns about COVID-19. 
"Team," the email reads in part, "these are one liner's [sic] to help you close your guests that are on the fence. DO NOT USE THESE unless the coronavirus is brought up."
Some of the lines in the script pressure a fictitious customer to book a cruise immediately to avoid paying more later. 
"Mr Becker," the line reads, "due to the Coronavirus we have cancelled all of our Asia cruises on the Norwegian Spirit. This has caused a huge surge in demand for all of our other itineraries. I suggest we secure your reservation today to avoid you paying more tomorrow." (News reports, on the other hand, suggest cruise lines are suffering from a spate of canceled trips rather than experiencing high demand. NCL's stock price has fallen more than 35 percent in recent days.)

Other script lines simply reassure customers not to be afraid. 
"The only thing you need to worry about for your cruise is do you have enough sunscreen?" one of the suggested talking points reads. 
Some of the recommended responses are blatantly false. For instance, cruise bookers were instructed to tell potential customers that coronavirus is not a concern in warm Caribbean climates. 
"The Coronavirus can only survive in cold temperatures, so the Caribbean is a fantastic choice for your next cruise," one talking point reads. 
"Scientists and medical professionals have confirmed that the warm weather of the spring will be the end of the Coronavirus," reads a second. 
Another line says coronavirus "cannot live in the amazingly warm and tropical temperatures that your cruise will be sailing to."

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