A federal appeals court panel has sided with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its legal battle with Florida over COVID-19 guidelines for cruise lines.
The 2-1 decision handed down just before midnight Saturday by the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals judges stays a U.S. district judge’s decision – minutes before it would have gone into effect – that the CDC could not enforce its rules for the return of cruises.
In March 2020, the CDC halted cruises and has since has laid out a four-phase, conditional framework allowing cruise lines to resume operations under specific conditions. Florida filed a lawsuit, championed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, claiming the process to allow cruising from Florida is overly burdensome, harming the multibillion-dollar industry and revenue collected by the state.
Norwegian Cruise Lines had filed court papers backing the CDC rules. The cruise line also has sued Florida for the right to require that all its passengers be vaccinated when its cruises return to Florida next month.
Also in the news:
►More than 25,000 U.S. patients who likely had COVID-19 were in hospitals Saturday, up 24.1% from a week earlier. Throughout the week hospitals admitted 51,378 likely COVID patients, up 15%. And 6,198 adults with COVID-19 were in intensive-care units, up 25.7% from a week earlier. New infections rose in all 50 states for the third consecutive day.
►Three Democratic Texas state lawmakers who fled to Washington, D.C., to stymie passage of a restrictive, GOP-backed voting law have tested positive for COVID-19 despite being vaccinated, according to Texas House Democratic Caucus leadership.
►Over 100,000 people protested across France on Saturday against the government’s latest measures to push people to get vaccinated and curb rising infections by the delta variant of the coronavirus.
►Arizona on Saturday reported over 1,000 additional COVID-19 cases for the fourth straight day as virus-related hospitalizations continued to increase.
►The British government still plans to lift all remaining legal restrictions on social contact, as well as other public health measures on Monday, despite the U.K. recording more than 50,000 new COVID-19 cases for the first time in six months and a dire warning from the British government’s top medical adviser.
►The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma has announced on Facebook that all visitors to tribal health facilities must wear a mask and placed limits the number of visitors a patient is allowed.
📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has had more than 34 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 608,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: more than 190 million cases and more than 4 million deaths. Nearly 159 million Americans – 47.9 % of the population – have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
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Tens of thousands of vaccinated, socially distanced and masked Muslim pilgrims circled Islam’s holiest site in Mecca on Sunday, a small fraction of the usual crowd drawn to the Saudi Arabian city for the hajj. About 60,000 vaccinated citizens or residents of Saudi Arabia are allowed to participate in this year’s hajj, which saw numbers drastically trimmed for the second year in a row. In years past the event has drawn millions of Muslims from around the globe. Hajj is a religious duty required at least once for all adult Muslims who are physically and financially able to make the journey.
The COVD-prompted rule changes eliminate the ability of people outside Saudi Arabia to fulfil the Islamic obligation and costs the country billions of dollars. The Islamic pilgrimage lasts about five days, but traditionally Muslims begin arriving in Mecca weeks ahead of time. The hajj concludes with the Eid al-Adha celebration, marked by the distribution of meat to the poor around the world.
A south Alabama hospital that vaccinated thousands of people against COVID-19 plans to send a team to do immunizations in Peru, which has been hit hard by the pandemic. USA Health said more than 20 volunteers will travel to the country’s Cusco region. CerviCusco, a nongovernmental agency in Peru, sought the assistance, the health system said in a statement. USA Health has provided more than 75,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines on the U.S. Gulf Coast, including at mass clinics where more than 2,200 people received injections daily.
“Our plan is to travel to Peru in mid-August, establish processes and protocols for safe and efficient vaccine distribution in the region with a goal of providing 5,000 doses to the people of Peru,” said Natalie Fox, assistant administrator and chief nursing officer for USA Health Physicians Group.
Health officials from popular tourist destinations such as Los Angeles and Las Vegas are asking more people to mask up indoors. The Southern Nevada Health District is now recommending people wear masks in crowded indoor public places – including Las Vegas casinos – regardless of vaccination status. Los Angeles County also has announced that it would reinstate an indoor masking policy because of a recent surge in new COVID-19 cases, and more counties in California are joining the list.
The mask guidelines are meant to help quell the spread of COVID and the highly contagious delta variant, which has caused an uptick in daily cases in some regions across the U.S.
– Bailey Schulz, USA TODAY
The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee reported the first positive case of COVID-19 in the Olympic Village on Saturday. The unidentified person, who is listed by organizers only as “Games-concerned personnel,” was quarantining at a hotel. Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the organizing committee, said in a news conference that he did not have any information about whether the person had been vaccinated. And Seiko Hashimoto, the committee’s president, said organizers are doing everything in their power to ensure that the Olympic Village – like all venues and facilities – is as safe as possible.
The unnamed Olympic Village resident is one of 44 people affiliated with the Games who have tested positive for COVID-19 since July 1, according to organizers. Fourteen of those cases were reported Saturday. Twenty-eight of the 44 positives have involved Tokyo 2020 contractors. Read more.
– Tom Schad, USA TODAY
The Associated Press contributed to this blog.