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Coast health official back after cruise ends with 17 passengers testing positive for COVID-19

The Chief Nursing Officer for Singing River Health System said the outcome could have been much worse if people had not been vaccinated.
Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 10:29 PM CST
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PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - A South Mississippi nursing administrator is back home after returning from a Caribbean cruise on the Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway.

The Breakaway arrived back in New Orleans on Sunday and, with it, the announcement that 17 people on board had tested positive for COVID-19, including one crew member believed to have the omnicron variant.

The Breakaway, a ship on the Norwegian Cruise Line, arrived backed in New Orleans on Dec. 5....
The Breakaway, a ship on the Norwegian Cruise Line, arrived backed in New Orleans on Dec. 5. Officials say 17 people aboard the ship tested positive for COVID-19, including one crew member believed to have the Omnicron variant.(WLOX)

Among the 3,200 people who were aboard the vessel were Singing River Health Systems’ Chief Nursing Officer, Susan Russell, and her husband Eddie.

As a nursing professional, Susan Russell has been at the forefront of healthcare since the pandemic began. She said that the breakout of cases on the cruise ship could have been much worse and credits the cruise line with taking every precaution necessary to try and keep people safe.

“It was a very, very good cruise,” she said. “Very high sanitation, mask-wearing by all of the staff members. I mean, no one ever had a breach. Everybody was very compliant, and it was, honestly, the safest environment I feel like I’ve been in.”

Everyone on the ship was required to take a COVID-19 test before coming aboard, and all cruise passengers were required to be vaccinated. The guests had to again take a COVID-19 test before disembarking from the ship.

Eddie Russell of Pascagoula prepares to get a nasal swab to test for COVID-19 before...
Eddie Russell of Pascagoula prepares to get a nasal swab to test for COVID-19 before disembarking from a cruise ship.(Submitted)

Of the 17 people that have tested positive for the virus, the cruise line says they are all mild cases with few to no symptoms.

“Up to this point, those people have not been ill. They’ve just tested positive,” said Susan Russell.

According to the CDC and other health officials, the vaccine does not prevent people from getting the virus but does give them more protection from developing a severe and potentially deadly case of COVID-19.

Eddie and Susan Russell of Pascagoula were on The Breakaway's seven-day Caribbean cruise. The...
Eddie and Susan Russell of Pascagoula were on The Breakaway's seven-day Caribbean cruise. The ship returned to New Orleans on Dec. 5, announcing that 17 people aboard the ship had tested positive for COVID-19.(Submitted)

Russell said the outbreak aboard The Breakaway is a prime example of the vaccine working like it was designed to.

“We know the vaccines are not going to be 100 percent but considering the fact that we know 100 percent of the people were vaccinated and the very, very low amount of people who have just tested positive, it does show that the vaccination does help keep us safe, even if we’re in very tight quarters like a cruise ship,” said Russell.

The seven-day voyage stopped in Belize, Honduras and Mexico. Even with everyone being vaccinated and being tested before coming onboard, it’s possible that someone picked up the virus while in one of the ports, said Russell.

Russell and her family members all tested negative for the virus.

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