Cruise ships are going to start sailing again on the timeline favored by the cruise industry, not the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, insiders say. Sources tell Axios and the New York Times that CDC chief Dr. Robert Redfield was overruled at a coronavirus task force meeting this week when he sought to extend the federal "no-sail" order for cruise ships until mid-February. The order will instead be lifted on Oct. 31, the sources say. The date matches the one the Cruise Lines International Association previously agreed to when it voluntarily suspended operations, Florida Today reports. The no-sail order, which was issued in mid-March and extended in April and July, was due to expire Wednesday.
Extending the no-sail order into next year would have displeased the "politically powerful tourism industry in the crucial swing state of Florida," where Republican lawmakers have urged the CDC to lift it, the Times notes. White House deputy press secretary Brian Morgenstern, however, denied that the decision was influenced by politics. "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 in a statement to Axios. "It is not about politics. It is about saving lives." The Times' sources say Redfield is trying to restore public trust in the CDC and didn't want cruise ships to sail until the industry can prove they won't become "floating petri dishes." (Read more cruise ships stories.)