Federal health officials are extending the US ban on cruise ships through the end of September as coronavirus infections rise in most US states, including Florida. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that it was extending a no-sail order that had been scheduled to expire July 24, the AP reports. In the order signed by CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, the agency said the cruise industry hasn't controlled transmission of the virus on its ships. The CDC said it was concerned whether cruise ships operating now with reduced crews were complying with practices designed to prevent transmitting the virus. The CDC said its concerns "highlight the need for further action prior to resuming passenger operations."
The order covers ships that can carry 250 or more passengers. The CDC said cruise ships are more crowded than most urban settings, and even when only essential crew remains on board, the virus continues to spread. Companies that belong to an industry trade group, the Cruise Lines International Association, had already canceled cruises until Sept. 15 because of ongoing discussions with federal officials over how to restart operations safely. Members of the group include Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. From March 1 through July 10, there have been nearly 3,000 cases of COVID-19 or similar illnesses and 34 deaths on cruise ships, according to the CDC. There have been 99 outbreaks covering 80% of the ships in US waters, the CDC said. Nine ships are still dealing with outbreaks, the agency said.
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