TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis wants you to be able to hop on a cruise from one of Florida’s ports by July, but will the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention budge under threats of a lawsuit?
Gov. DeSantis says the current cruise ship ban is based on outdated medical information. The state is threatening to sue the CDC unless ships are allowed to set sail by this summer.
“To say that you can’t sail by the time we get to the end of June, the CDC is basically saying the vaccines don’t work then,” said Gov. DeSantis. “They’re basically anti-vaxxers.”
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody agrees.
“The rationale…is based on outdated data and guidelines put in place before we had a COVID-19 vaccine,” Moody said.
After major outbreaks on cruise ships, the CDC shut down the industry last March. Florida lost thousands of jobs and billions of dollars.
By October, in a conditional sail order, the CDC issued new requirements including mandatory mock voyages to replicate real-world COVID-19 conditions.
In Port Canaveral on Friday, cruise industry leaders all claimed the October order is unrealistic and it’s totally safe to set sail now. One claimed their ships are safer than the supermarket.
Industry leaders say they’ve adopted 74 science-based recommendations for healthy sailing. Outside of the U.S., cruise ships are operating without outbreaks, said panelists.
But Dr. Cindy Prins, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Florida, is defending the CDC’s ban.
“I think we have to be a little bit careful about going forward with cruising right now,” Dr. Prins said.
She believes the risk is higher on a ship than a plane.
“The whole point of being on a cruise is a social aspect of it. It’s interacting with other people, dining with other people,” she explained.
While the vaccine gives you immunity, Gov. DeSantis says there’ll be no vaccine mandate in Florida.
“When you put a lot of people on a cruise together, you may want to have a situation where more people are vaccinated and not take a chance of these cases going out of control,” Dr. Prins said.
The CDC’s current ban is in place until November. 8 On Your Side reached out to the agency on Monday and is waiting for a statement but, right now, there’s no indication the CDC will ease restrictions before the fall.