CDC fighting to keep COVID-19 regulations in place on cruise ships

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has appealed a federal judge’s order that downgraded the agency’s COVID-19 regulations on cruise ships to recommendations and effectively allowed the industry to restart in Florida.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) had brought the suit challenging the CDC.

In its appeal, the CDC asked that U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday’s order be reversed while their appeal is considered. It argued that the cruise ships could lead to an increase in COVID-19 in the United States.

“This Court’s order creates a substantial risk that cruise ships will exacerbate the introduction and spread of the virus in the United States,” the CDC wrote in its appeal.

Merryday of the Middle District of Florida issued his order on June 18, ruling the CDC did not provide enough justification for its “conditional sail order,” which dictates how cruise ships can resume operation in the U.S. 

Under the order, the CDC’s regulations would no longer be in effect beginning on July 18.

He also gave the CDC until July 22 to propose a “narrower injunction” that would allow cruise ships to operate while maintaining the CDC’s authority “to further safeguard the public’s health.”

The agency argued that its “conditional sail order” fell under its authority to protect public health.

“The Conditional Sailing Order (‘CSO’) is an important tool in ensuring that cruise ship operations do not exacerbate the spread of dangerous variants during this inflection point in the pandemic,” the federal government argued in the court documents. “It does not shut down the cruise industry but instead provides a sensible, flexible framework for re-opening, based on the best available scientific evidence.”

The Miami Herald noted that some cruise ship companies have already begun operating again under the CDC’s regulations, with one ship with paying customers leaving a U.S. port for the first time in 15 months.

However, even with ships following CDC regulations, cases have still been reported on cruises with eight crew members on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship testing positive for COVID-19, forcing the company to postpone its test cruise.

Tags Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cruise lines Cruise ships Ron DeSantis Ron DeSantis Steven Douglas Merryday

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