TAMPA, Fla. — Port Tampa Bay is increasing its cleaning procedures and launching a new safety measure to protect cruise passengers and port staff from COVID-19.
Port Tampa Bay says it will start using mPact as an extra method to protect passengers and staff in the port’s three cruise terminals.
The mPact system works by creating a thin, bonded film that attracts and kills bacteria, viruses and mold for up to a month. The company says it was initially created for mold remediation and was used in schools, prisons and hospitals. They say home builders were using it as a preventative measure.
"About three weeks ago the idea came about, well 'hey let’s see what we can do with this specific strand of coronavirus,'" said Justin Evans, with mPact Envronmental Solutions. " We sent an active ingredient off to a lab in Germany and they were able to test it against COVID-19.”
The lab tests show mPact is 99.9% effective and can last on a surface for at least 30 days.
"You can re-wipe with Lysol or whatever disinfectant you want to go over with on your daily cleaning, and it’s not gonna affect that," said Evans.
Officials say this is another tool the port is using, along with recent cleaning and sanitation efforts.
Crews are already deep cleaning each terminal after each cruise, regularly cleaning and sanitizing high touch areas like doorknobs, countertops and railings.
More hand sanitizer is also available to passengers in the terminal. Right now, there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 at Port Tampa Bay, but Paul Anderson, the CEO and President of Port Tampa Bay, says they have a protocol in place if that changes.
“The hypothetical is we have a place for a ship to be quarantined both at sea and here at the port," he said.
Vice President Mike Pence says he’s been talking with the Department of Health, the Coast Guard and the cruise line industry about the need for more stringent protection measures.
Pence said he made it clear cruises have to be safer for people and that all cruises need to embrace new protocols.
“If I was a cruise passenger and I’m not 80 years or older with some of the conditions the CDC has outlined very clearly, I wouldn’t have any problem taking a cruise," said Anderson. "This isn’t a time to panic.”
The proposal should have new details about health screenings as people board on and off the ship.
Pence also asked for a process to evacuate people who may get coronavirus.
Health experts recommend anyone over the age of 60 or with an underlying health condition not to go on a cruise right now.