White House overrules CDC on temporary ban on cruises

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield wanted to extend the agency’s No

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield wanted to extend the agency’s No Sail Order for cruise ships set to expire on Wednesday, but was blocked by the White House, The New York Times reports.

At the beginning of the pandemic, there were several coronavirus outbreaks on cruise ships; the Diamond Princess, for example, saw 700 of its 3,711 passengers and crew members test positive for COVID-19, with 14 dying. Wanting to avoid a repeat of this, Redfield argued the No Sail Order, which went into effect in April as a way of combating the coronavirus, should be extended until mid-February 2021, but he was overruled during a White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting on Tuesday, the Times reports. The task force decided instead ships will be able to set sail after Oct. 31.

The Cruise Lines International Association says the industry generates $53 billion in economic activity every year, and its biggest market in the United States is Florida. Republican politicians in the swing state and cruise industry lobbyists have been arguing that the No Sail Order should not be extended, but White House Deputy Press Secretary Brian Morgenstern told the Times the task force’s decision was not politically motivated.

“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.

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