White House overrules CDC request to extend 'no sail' order and says operations will resume on October 31 - despite warnings ships will become 'COVID-19 hotbeds' again

 The White House has blocked an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that would’ve kept cruise liners docked until early next year, reports say.

The CDC’s current ‘no sail’ policy, first put in place in April, was set to expire on Wednesday.

During a Tuesday coronavirus task force meeting, CDC Director Robert Redfield reportedly recommended extending the current order again until at least mid-February, 2021.  

Redfield reportedly voiced concern the ships would likely become virus hotspots again, just as they had been at the beginning of the pandemic.

But a senior health official told Axios that Redfield was ultimately overruled as the administration instead plans to extend the order only until October 31, before permitting ships to take to the seas once again.

The official said the decision to reject Redfield’s proposal was politically motivated, with the Trump administration reluctant to upset the cruise industry in the critical swing state of Florida ahead of November's election.

The White House has blocked an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that would’ve kept cruise liners – which are considered a hotbed for coronavirus – docked until early next year, reports say

The White House has blocked an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that would’ve kept cruise liners – which are considered a hotbed for coronavirus – docked until early next year, reports say

During a Tuesday coronavirus task force meeting, CDC Director Robert Redfield reportedly recommended extending the current order again until at least mid-February, 2021

During a Tuesday coronavirus task force meeting, CDC Director Robert Redfield reportedly recommended extending the current order again until at least mid-February, 2021

The White House timeline for reopening the cruise industry aligns with a voluntary plan the industry itself offered up, which was overseen by former Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt and former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

The industry’s plan calls for a gradual return to the norm with its first trips taking on crew members posing as passengers and testing guests twice – before arrival and prior to boarding.

In a statement to Axios, White House spokesperson Brian Morganstern insisted there was nothing political behind the overruling of Redfield.

‘The president, the vice president and the task force follow the science and data to implement policies that protect the public health and also facilitate the safe reopening of our country,’ he said. ‘It’s not about politics. It’s about saving lives.’


Under Redfield’s leadership, the CDC has been broadly criticized for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, ridicule which began with its haphazard rollout of testing kits back in the spring. It also recently received criticism for issuing new guidance on airborne transmission of the virus, only to retract it days later claiming it had been ‘posted in error’.

Redfield, who has previously been admonished by Trump advocating for mask wearing and issuing warnings that vaccines won’t be readily available until next year, reportedly feared he’d be fired before the Tuesday decision, according to the New York Times.

The outlet further reported that Redfield had also considered resigning from his post if he were forced to oversee a policy that would compromise public health, a senior administration official disclosed.

He reportedly warned the taskforce that allowing cruise ships to sail without proper precautions could lead to a public health crisis.

The Diamond Princess cruise ship became one of the first examples of a coronavirus superspreading event at the beginning of the pandemic, when more than 700 of its 3,711 passengers and crew tested positive for COVID-19, and 14 died

The Diamond Princess cruise ship became one of the first examples of a coronavirus superspreading event at the beginning of the pandemic, when more than 700 of its 3,711 passengers and crew tested positive for COVID-19, and 14 died

A passenger wearing a protective mask holds up a sign that reads, "Test Me," as she stands on the balcony of the Coral Princess cruise ship while docked at Port Miami

A passenger wearing a protective mask holds up a sign that reads, "Test Me," as she stands on the balcony of the Coral Princess cruise ship while docked at Port Miami

Between March 1 and July 10, the CDC reported there had been 2,973 cruise-related coronavirus illnesses and 34 deaths

Between March 1 and July 10, the CDC reported there had been 2,973 cruise-related coronavirus illnesses and 34 deaths

The Diamond Princess cruise ship became one of the first examples of a coronavirus superspreading event at the beginning of the pandemic, when more than 700 of its 3,711 passengers and crew tested positive for COVID-19 and 14 died.

Between March 1 and July 10, the CDC reported there had been 2,973 cruise-related coronavirus illnesses and 34 deaths.

The cruise ship industry is considered to have a vast political influence in Florida and generates $53 billion annually in economic activity. The Florida Ports Council said that state’s cruise industry, the largest in the nation, has been the hardest hit by the coronavirus.

With Trump fighting hard to win over the state in a neck-and-neck election race with Joe Biden, Republican politicians in Florida and cruise industry lobbyists have called for ending the no-sail order.

‘I urge the C.D.C. not to extend or renew the No Sail Order,’ Carlos A. Gimenez, the Republican mayor of Miami-Dade County, said in a Saturday statement.

Earlier this month, Republican Florida Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio proposed the Set Sail Safely Act, which would create a maritime taskforce on the logistical changes needed for the industry to resume operations safely.

‘The Florida delegation is very supportive, and is trying to work with the administration and the C.D.C. to see what efforts we can do to get the industry up and operating,’ Michael Rubin, vice president of governmental affairs for the Florida Ports Council told the Times. ‘It’s still the only industry that’s not allowed to operate at the moment.’

Trump had included three chairman from the cruise industry’s largest lines – Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian – On a White House task force formed in April to advise him on reopening the country.

Despite the cruise industry being pummeled by the pandemic, liners were ineligible for stimulus funds because they’re operated overseas.

White House overrules CDC request to extend 'no sail' order and says operations will resume on October 31 - despite warnings ships will become 'COVID-19 hotbeds' again White House overrules CDC request to extend 'no sail' order and says operations will resume on October 31 - despite warnings ships will become 'COVID-19 hotbeds' again Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 03:29 Rating: 5

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