Appellate Court to Decide Florida’s Cruise Industry Fight with CDC

Cruise ship next to dock

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals will be hearing a case between the State of Florida and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over cruise industry COVID-related restrictions.

Last month, a federal district judge sided with Florida and issued an immediate injunction against the CDC-imposed COVID restrictions on the cruise industry, halting the restrictions temporarily.

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DeSantis Press Secretary: Governor Has ‘Earned’ National Spotlight

Ron DeSantis

In response to an Associated Press story that describes Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) as “seizing” the national spotlight, his Press Secretary Christina Pushaw told the Florida Capital Star that the governor has earned his newfound respect among Republicans nationwide. 

“Governor DeSantis has earned the national stage by demonstrating real leadership. For elected officials facing a crisis like COVID-19, it’s tempting to abdicate decision-making power to unelected bureaucrats in public health,” Pushaw said. “Governor DeSantis did the opposite. He sought out expertise from health professionals and scientists, he did his own research, and most importantly, he made decisions that were harshly criticized sometimes, but more than a year on, the data has proven that his approach was the right one.”

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Royal Caribbean Summer Cruises Will Not Require Vaccination

Miami-based Royal Caribbean, one of America’s largest cruise lines, will resume operations in July, and will not fight the state of Florida on its new law banning vaccine passports. 

Instead, the cruise vacation company recommends that its passengers are vaccinated against COVID-19. 

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DeSantis Not Backing Down on Cruise Vaccine Passports

After banning vaccine passports from the Sunshine State by law and by executive order, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is now tasked with bringing the cruise ship industry, a proponent of such passports, to heel. 

“We are going to enforce Florida law,” DeSantis said Friday. “I mean, we have Florida law. We have laws that protect the people and the privacy of our citizens, and we are going to enforce it.”

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Gainesville Officials Challenge Prohibition of Vaccine Passports

U.S. Passport with vaccine behind

Gainesville city officials are challenging a future state law, SB 2006, that prohibits local governments, schools, and businesses from requiring individuals to show proof of the COVID-19 vaccination to receive services or allowed entry.

For Gainesville city employees, the city has issued voluntary proof of vaccination, or vaccine passports, so that individuals who show proof can abide by looser CDC guidelines which involve not wearing a mask nor socially distancing for people who are fully vaccinated.

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Major Florida Companies Drop Mask Mandates After CDC Announcement

After an announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 are free to gather without masks, several Florida staples have announced they will not require customers to wear masks this summer. 

“Visitors won’t have to wear face masks outdoors at any of Central Florida’s major theme parks, as Universal Orlando, Disney World and SeaWorld relaxed the COVID-19 rule effective Saturday, sparking a mixed reaction among some fans,” The Orlando Sentinel reported Saturday. 

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More Americans Are Living Their Lives, Leaving Masks at Home, Survey Shows

Group of people sitting at public restaurant, eating.

A majority of Americans said for the first time in over a year that returning to their “normal” pre-pandemic lives did not pose a moderate or large health risk, an Axios/Ipsos survey shows.

The survey, released Tuesday, showed just 43% of Americans saying that returning to “normal” posed either a large or moderate risk to their health. It also shows that majorities of Americans have begun to enjoy several aspects of pre-pandemic life: 54% of Americans have eaten at a restaurant, 59% have visited family or friends and 31% have made summer plans – all in the past week alone.

The return to normalcy and the mental health benefits associated with it directly corresponds with the amount of Americans who say they have been vaccinated. Almost two-thirds of respondents say that they have received at least one shot, and 18% say that their emotional well-being has improved in the past week, which the survey notes is an all-time high during the pandemic.

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Florida Takes Feds to Court Over Cruise Ship Restrictions

Cruise ship next to dock

The state of Florida will argue before a federal judge Wednesday that the federal government should not be allowed to interfere with the cruise ship industry, which seeks to get back on its feet after the COVID-19 pandemic, and subsequent lockdowns. 

“Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, filed the lawsuit last month challenging restrictions imposed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and pointing to the economic impact on the state,” according to a CBS Miami report. “Moody’s office is seeking a preliminary injunction based, in part, on arguments that the CDC overstepped its legal authority in imposing the restrictions.”

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A Majority of Americans Support ‘Vaccine Passports’ for Some Activities, Poll Finds

Photo of two passports in person's hand

A majority of Americans support requiring proof of vaccinations when traveling on planes and attending events with large crowds, a Gallup poll released Friday shows.

The survey found that 57% of Americans supported requiring proof of vaccination on airplanes and that 55% supported requiring proof for events like concerts, shows and live sports. Just 43% and 45% of Americans said they were opposed, respectively.

Majorities of Americans, however, rejected “vaccine passports” for dining at restaurants, going to work and staying in a hotel. Just 40%, 45% and 44% of Americans supported requiring proof of vaccination for each activity.

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Florida House Passes Bill Banning Vaccine Passports

The Republican-controlled Florida House of Representatives Wednesday passed a bill would ban “vaccine passports.”

SB 2006 passed by a vote of 76-40 in the House. It now heads back to the Florida Senate after the House added an amendment. 

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Greg Abbott Issues Executive Order Banning Vaccine Passports

Passport

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Monday banning government-issued “vaccine passports” statewide.

Abbott said that vaccinations against COVID-19 cannot be government-mandated, and that residents’ choice to not receive one should not prevent them from going about their lives.

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Commentary: Just Say No to Vaccine Passports

We all desperately want normal lives again. And I’m not talking about the finnicky “new normal” that accommodates Aunt Karen’s irrational fear of leaving her house. I’m talking about “normal normal,” where people crowd into concert halls with standing room only, restaurants operate crowded tables at 120 percent capacity, and cruise ship buffets shove food and alcohol down my throat like it’s Fat Tuesday, all day, every day. Ah … don’t you miss 2019? I sure do.

It was only a matter of time before some in our society turned the national COVID experiment into an excuse to say, “Papers, please.” That’s right — the so-called vaccine passport is now emerging in the United States. It’s an app that is advertised as a way to help people do the things they miss doing from pre-pandemic times. Want to feel completely safe in your favorite store, and surround yourself with others who, like you, have rolled up their sleeve and gotten the vaccine? There’s an app for that. Just scan your QR code and enter feeling sanctimoniously sanitized.

Last week, New York became the first state to offer such a vaccine verification app. The state-sanctioned app, called Excelsior Pass, claims to let participants “Attend sporting events, arts performances and more! Excelsior Pass supports a safe reopening of New York by providing a free, fast and secure way to present digital proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results.” Well that sounds fun to me! Sign me up!

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DeSantis to Take Executive Action Against ‘Vaccine Passports’

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) vowed that he would issue an executive order forbidding local governments and businesses from requiring “vaccine passports” to show digital or physical proof of vaccination against COVID-19, The Hill reports.

At a news conference, the Florida governor announced he would introduce “an executive function, emergency function” against vaccine passports and requested the Republican state legislature draft a bill forbidding such passports.

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