Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, has made it clear that he’s less interested in following science and medicine than showing he’s ready for everything (especially the economy) to be “normal” in terms of his state’s response to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.
He’s been this way since the very beginning of the pandemic, when he was one of the last governors to put his state on “lockdown” status. When COVID was labeled a global pandemic around March 11th and other states quickly told their citizens to stay home to decrease the spread of the virus, DeSantis waited nearly 3 weeks and was one of the last states to do so. He also reopened Florida much earlier than most other states.
Florida also has never had a statewide mask mandate. DeSantis said that he trusted people to “make good decisions.”
So how did that go for him?
Not surprisingly, Florida has consistently had one of the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID in the country throughout the entire pandemic (third highest for cases, fourth highest for deaths). To put that into perspective:
- Florida, with roughly 21.5 million citizens, so far has had 2.3 million cases and over 35,500 deaths.
- Taiwan, with 23.5 million citizens (as of 2021), so far has had less than 1,200 cases and only 12 deaths.
- Mali, with 20.1 million citizens, had only had 14,000 cases, and less than 500 deaths.
- Even Chile, with its 19.6 million citizens, has seen just a little more than half the cases of Florida – 1.2 million.
So much for Floridians making good decisions.
Anyway, DeSantis signed an order last month that banned businesses in Florida from requiring customers to show proof of vaccination before entry, and prohibited state agencies from issuing vaccine passports or similar paperwork that documented COVID-19 vaccinations and test results.
“In Florida, your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected and no business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision,” DeSantis said.
Meanwhile, to change gears for a second, the CDC is finally working with cruise lines so that cruises can start again, hopefully this summer. The CDC recently said that cruise ships can eventually proceed to open-water passenger sailings, and bypass trial cruises with volunteers, as long as 98% of crew members and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated.
With that (and for some cruise lines, even before that), almost every major (and not so major) cruise line has announced they will require proof of vaccination in order to sail.
Well, now that makes a problem, because between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Port Canaveral, Tampa, etc., a LOT of cruises depart out of Florida. And governor DeSantis isn’t allowing companies to show proof of vaccinations for COVID-19.
So the battle lines are apparently being drawn.
Norwegian Cruise Lines is now threatening to pull all of its ships out of Florida, and dock them in other places, if the state government won’t allow them to require proof of having received a full set of COVID vaccinations.
The company says the governor’s orders is at odds with guidelines from federal health authorities that would let cruise ships sail in U.S. waters if nearly all passengers and crew members are vaccinated.
“It is a classic state-versus-federal-government issue,” says Frank Del Rio, CEO of parent Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. “Lawyers believe that federal law applies and not state law, but I’m not a lawyer. And we hope that this doesn’t become a legal football or a political football.”
“At the end of the day, cruise ships have motors, propellers and rudders, and God forbid we can’t operate in the state of Florida for whatever reason, then there are other states that we do operate from, and we can operate from the Caribbean for a ship that otherwise would have gone to Florida,” Del Rio was reported as saying during the company’s quarterly earnings call.
No word from Desantis’ office about this, or if other cruise ships will follow Norwegian’s lead.
But if DeSantis holds his ground, the state that he’s continually boasted is “open for business” could potentially lose upwards of $9 billion from the cruise industry, if all the cruise lines decided to go somewhere else.
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#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands #wearamask #getyourCOVIDvaccine
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary