Alaska to join Florida in suing the CDC for its ‘job-killing’ pause on the US cruise industry

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy in 2019.

  • Florida announced on April 8 that it would be suing the CDC to bring cruises back “immediately.”
  • Now, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy says the state will be joining Florida’s lawsuit against the CDC.
  • Alaska lost $3 billion when the CDC canceled the 2020 cruising season due to COVID-19, according to Dunleavy.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced on April 20 that Alaska will be joining Florida in suing the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to bring cruising back.

The CDC has maintained its pause on the cruise industry – via its no-sail order and recently updated Conditional Sailing Order (COS)– since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when cruise ships around the world initially became inundated with coronavirus outbreaks.

In an effort to “fight back” against this halt on cruising, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on April 8 that the state would be suing the CDC to bring cruise ships back “immediately.” Now, Alaska will be joining this cause in an effort to push the CDC to either remove or revise its order.

Alaska has lost $3 billion due to the 2020 cruise halt, and is projected to continue this loss as the 2021 cruising season remains in limbo, Dunleavy said in a news release.

“Alaskan families and small businesses need fast action to protect their ability to work and provide for their families,” Dunleavy said.”We deserve the chance to have tourism and jobs.”

According to the news release, the CDC doesn’t have the authority to continue this “job-killing” pause, and its COS hasn’t acknowledged that cruise ships have already been operating successfully outside of the US. The release also noted Alaska’s high vaccination and “low” hospitalization rates.

“Through this lawsuit, Alaska seeks to protect its citizens and its interests by forcing the CDC to act within the limited authority Congress granted it,” Treg Taylor, Alaska’s attorney general, said in the news release. “CDC simply does not have the authority to arbitrarily shut down an entire industry.”

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Florida county sheriff tells new residents ‘don’t register to vote and vote the stupid way you did up north’

sheriff ron desantis
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speak at a news conference.

  • A sheriff welcomed new transplants to the Sunshine State, as long as they vote the right way.
  • “Don’t register to vote and vote the stupid way you did up north,” the Polk County Sheriff said.
  • His comments drew laughter from Gov. Ron DeSantis, who just signed an “anti-riot” bill into law.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Weighing in on the debate of what effect new residents have on Florida politics, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd proposed a simple solution on Monday.

“So we only want to share one thing, as you move in hundreds-a-day,” Judd said, with Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to his left. “Welcome to Florida. But don’t register to vote and vote the stupid way you did up north, or you’ll get what they got.”

“There’s a reason that this place is fun,” the sheriff continued. “There’s a reason why we have a 49-year low crime rate. And the same people that don’t think we should have an anti-rioting bill – or a rioting bill – are the same ones who think we ought to let more people out of prison.”

Judd was referring to H.B. 1, a hallmark piece of legislation championed and recently signed by DeSantis that classifies a riot as three people, grants civil immunity to motorists who run over protesters, and prevents those accused of rioting from posting bail until their first court appearance.

The governor was seen laughing when Judd made his remarks about voting.

As Insider’s Natasha Solo-Lyons reported in February, executives and companies fleeing to Miami from Wall Street and Silicon Valley are fueling a real estate boom.

Florida has seen more transplants during the pandemic than any other state except for Texas, according to a News 4 Jacksonville analysis of a Pew Charitable Trusts report.

The Sunshine State has also remained a Republican stronghold despite hundreds of thousands of new arrivals over the past decade, with former President Donald Trump winning Florida by more than three percentage points in the 2020 election.

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Florida Gov. DeSantis signs ‘anti-riot’ bill that grants civil immunity to drivers who hit protestors and protects police budgets from being cut

ron desantis florida vaccine 60 minutes
Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed an anti-riot bill into law on Monday morning that protects police budgets from being cut and stiffens penalties against those arrested during a “riot.”

The new law also prevents “rioters” from being bailed out of jail before their first court appearance and grants immunity from civil legal action for people who drive through protesters blocking a road.

This is a developing story. Please check back for more updates.

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Cruise lines and Florida are on track for a standoff over COVID-19 vaccine requirements

carnival cruise
The Carnival Ecstasy docked at the Port of Jacksonville on March 27, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida.

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order banning businesses from requiring vaccines applies to cruise lines.
  • However, several cruise lines have already announced vaccine mandates.
  • DeSantis has been vocal about the cruise industry and previously said the state would sue the CDC to bring cruises back sooner.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Florida and cruise companies could be locked in a battle over vaccine requirements as the state puts a ban on vaccine passports while cruise lines continue to mandate the jabs for passengers and crew.

On April 2, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order banning vaccine passports and local businesses from requiring this proof of vaccination. This ban applies to cruise lines as well, DeSantis’ press secretary Cody McCloud told Insider in an email.

“The Governor’s Executive Order provides that businesses in Florida are prohibited from requiring patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-transmission recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business,” McCloud told Insider in an email. “Therefore, the Executive Order prohibits cruise lines from requiring vaccine passports for their Florida operations.”

Read more: The Great GOP Migration: How South Florida became a shadow capital for Trump conservatives

However, many cruise lines have already announced some form of a vaccine requirement, whether it be for crew, guests, or both. This includes Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, which recently unveiled a sweeping vaccine requirement for its Norwegian, Oceania, and Regent Seven Seas brand. Other cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean, have held off on guest or crew requirements, instead opting to announce select “fully vaccinated” sailings.

However, major cruise lines – with the exception of those with a sweeping vaccine mandate – have withheld announcing a vaccine policy for future sailing series departing from US ports. So far, all of Royal Caribbean’s cruises operating under a vaccine order will be sailing out of international ports located in countries like Israel, Bermuda, and Cyprus.

DeSantis’ decision to prohibit cruise lines from requiring vaccines could prove to be yet another major issue for cruise companies, many of which have historically sailed out of Florida ports. But some experts have questioned DeSantis’ ability to impose such a ban upon cruise lines, according to a report from the Sun Sentinel.

This includes Jim Walker – an attorney based in South Florida with a specialization in maritime law – who told the Sun Sentinel that DeSantis may not have the jurisdiction needed to either prohibit cruise lines from enforcing a vaccine mandate or bring cruises back.

Regardless, it could be a while before we see any stand-off between the state and cruise lines interested in sailing out of Florida with a vaccine requirement.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has yet to give cruise lines the green light to resume sailing and has shied away from enforcing an industry-wide vaccine mandate. As a result, no major cruise lines will be sailing from US ports in the near future, even if the ship is traveling with a vaccine mandate.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says his state is suing the CDC to bring back cruises

ron desantis florida vaccine 60 minutes
Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says the state will sue the CDC to bring back cruise ships “immediately.”
  • The CDC has put a hold on the cruise industry since the COVID-19 pandemic first began.
  • The cruise industry has fought back, instead arguing for a cruising return from US ports by July.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that the state will be suing the federal government and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to bring back the cruise industry “immediately.”

“On behalf of the tens of thousands of Floridians whose livelihood depends on the viability of an open cruise industry, today Florida is fighting back,” DeSantis said in a news conference in Miami.

The CDC has maintained its halt on cruising since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when cruise ships around the world initially became superspreaders. However, several major cruise lines like Royal Caribbean have since found workarounds to this by offering “fully vaccinated” sailings from ports outside of the US, including Bermuda and the Caribbeans, a move DeSantis says takes business away from Florida.

“We don’t believe the federal government has the right to mothball a major industry for over a year,” DeSantis continued. “I think we have a good chance for success.”

On April 2, the CDC announced fully vaccinated people could travel safely in the US without quarantining or testing. Shortly after, the agency also issued an update to its conditional sailing order, which was first initially unveiled in October 2020 to replace a no-sail order imposed on the US cruise industry.

But despite the industry’s demands to resume sailing by July, the CDC didn’t announce a sooner sailing return in its updated order. Instead, it implemented what the Cruise Lines International Association has called “unduly burdensome and largely unworkable” requirements.

“I challenge you to tell me of another venue anywhere that has this kind of ironclad health and safety protocols in place,” Frank Del Rio, Norwegian Cruise Line parent CEO, told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on “Mad Money” on Monday. “Cruise ships will de facto become the safest place on earth.”

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis calls out ’60 Minutes’ for cutting large portions of his vaccine distribution answer

ron desantis florida vaccine 60 minutes
Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

  • Florida’s governor is taking CBS’s “60 Minutes” to task after a segment aired on Sunday.
  • CBS defended the package, which linked DeSantis donations to a grocery store vaccine deal.
  • The Publix grocery chain said the program made an “irresponsible suggestion” of pay-to-play.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized a “60 Minutes” segment that omitted large portions of his explanation of how a grocery store chain got approved for vaccine distribution in Palm Beach County.

The story focused on the Sunshine State’s vaccine rollout and a recent $100,000 donation from the Publix supermarket chain to DeSantis’ next gubernatorial campaign in 2022. Publix partnered with the state to administer vaccines in Palm Beach County as eligibility opened up.

In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, CBS defended the package, which was reported by correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi.

“We requested an interview with Gov. Ron DeSantis, he declined; We spoke to State Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz twice, but he declined to be interviewed on camera for our story until well after our deadline,” the CBS spokesperson wrote in the statement. “The idea we ignored their perspective is untrue.”

DeSantis’ office released a statement disputing the framing of the CBS segment.

“The irresponsible suggestion that there was a connection between campaign contributions made to Governor DeSantis and our willingness to join other pharmacies in support of the state’s vaccine distribution efforts is absolutely false and offensive,” a DeSantis spokesperson said in the statement on Monday.

The Democratic mayor of Palm Beach County, David Kerner, came to the Republican governor’s defense.

“I watched the 60 Minutes segment on Palm Beach County last night and feel compelled to issue this statement,” Kerner said on Monday. “The reporting was not just based on bad information – it was intentionally false.”

Kerner said he offered to provide his “insight” into how the deal went down, but “60 Minutes” declined.

Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz, also a Democrat, tweeted at the show to express his discontent in how the segment turned out.

In the CBS statement released on Tuesday, the network spokesperson said Kerner was interviewed for the story.

“Counter to his statement yesterday, we also spoke on the record with Palm Beach County Mayor David Kerner. For over 50 years, the facts reported by 60 Minutes have often stirred debate and prompted strong reactions. Our story Sunday night speaks for itself.”

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Publix was handed a vaccine distribution deal weeks after donating $100,000 to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ PAC

Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis fiercely denied accusations of a pay-for-play deal with Publix, which donated $100,000 to his PAC in the weeks before he announced a deal to allow the grocery chain to distribute COVID-19 vaccines in the state.

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis faces questions over a vaccine deal with the Publix grocery chain.
  • CBS “60 Minutes” reported that weeks before the announcement, Publix donated $100,000 to DeSantis’ PAC.
  • DeSantis told “60 Minutes” that any suggestion of a pay-for-play partnership was “a fake narrative.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis faces questions over his vaccine distribution partnership with the Publix grocery store chain, which donated a total of $100,000 to his political action committee in the weeks leading up to the deal’s announcement, 60 Minutes revealed Sunday.

DeSantis refused an interview with 60 Minutes, but was confronted by a reporter about the timing of the Publix donations at a press conference last month, where the governor denied any wrongdoing.

“What you’re saying is wrong … That’s a fake narrative,” DeSantis said. “I met with the county mayor. I met with the administrator. I met with all the folks in Palm Beach County and I said, ‘Here’s some of the options. We can do more drive-thru sites. We can give more to hospitals. We can do the Publix.’ And they said, ‘We think that would be the easiest thing for our residents.'”

DeSantis announced in January that Publix would distribute COVID-19 vaccines through their pharmacies. The chain receives almost 1 in 4 of all Florida’s shots, according to local media.

A county commissioner, Melissa McKinlay, told 60 Minutes that the governor never met with her about the Publix partnership.

Publix responded to the criticism with a statement to 60 Minutes, calling the accusation that they paid for the chance to distribute the vaccines “absolutely false and offensive.”

publix
A Publix Food & Pharmacy store where COVID-19 vaccinations were being administered is seen on January 29, 2021 in Delray Beach, Florida.

“The irresponsible suggestion that there was a connection between campaign contributions made to Governor DeSantis and our willingness to join other pharmacies in support of the state’s vaccine distribution efforts is absolutely false and offensive. We are proud of our pharmacy associates for administering more than 1.5 million doses of vaccine to date and for joining other retailers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia to do our part to help our communities emerge from the pandemic,” the statement read.

Insider reached out to both DeSantis and Publix for additional comment, but did not immediately receive a response Monday morning.

The details about the Publix donations and vaccine deal were part of a larger story into allegations of preferential treatment to wealthy Florida communities during the pandemic.

One of the flaws with the Publix partnership is that it made it difficult for residents in some poorer communities in Palm Beach County to get the vaccine.

In the community of Belle Glade, for example, the nearest Publix is 25 miles away, and for residents that don’t have a car, it takes two buses and a round trip of more than two hours.

Florida state Rep. Omari Hardy, a Democratic, told 60 Minutes that the vaccine rollout in the state “hasn’t worked for people of color.”

“Before, I could call the public health director. She would answer my calls. But now if I want to get my constituents information about how to get this vaccine I have to call a lobbyist from Publix? That makes no sense. They’re not accountable to the public,” Hardy said.

According to 60 Minutes, a federal complaint claims DeSantis discriminated when he picked where to hold pop-up vaccinations sites across the state.

60 Minutes detailed how DeSantis gave the community of Lakewood Ranch in Manatee County, one of the wealthiest enclaves in the state, 3,000 vaccines in February, after local developer Pat Neal donated $135,000 to the governor’s PAC.

DeSantis said he “saw a need” in the community to get vaccine rates up, despite the area having some of the lowest infection rates in the state.

And when he was questioned about the decision, DeSantis threatened to take the vaccines away.

“I mean if Manatee County doesn’t like us doing this, then we are totally fine with putting this in counties that want it,” DeSantis said, according to 60 Minutes.

Read the full story at 60 MinutesĀ»

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Florida declares state of emergency as reservoir holding millions of gallons of radioactive wastewater ‘could collapse’ at any time

Ron DeSantis
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis responds to a question from the media at a press conference at the Eau Gallie High School aviation hangar in Melbourne, Florida, on March 22, 2021.

  • Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency after a leak was detected at an old phosphate plant pond.
  • The pond, located in Tampa Bay, stores water that contains small amounts of radium and uranium.
  • Residents living close to the reservoir received a warning via text message asking them to evacuate.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency on Saturday after a leak was detected at an old phosphate plant pond in the Tampa Bay area that could potentially lead to a dangerous acidic flood.

Residents living close to the old Piney Point phosphate mine, located north of Bradenton, near Tampa, have been asked to evacuate their homes. Those living within a half-a-mile radius of the reservoir received a text message alert on Saturday notifying them the collapse was “imminent,” the Guardian reported.

State officials said they first discovered the leak on Friday. It was located in one wall of the 77-acre pond that holds about 600 million gallons of water, containing phosphorus, nitrogen, and small amounts of radium and uranium.

The stacks can also release large concentrations of radon gas.

Read more: People flocked to Florida and Texas for a lower cost of living during the pandemic. Some were shocked when their healthcare got way more expensive.

“A portion of the containment wall at the leak site shifted laterally, signifying that structural collapse could occur at any time,” Manatee County Director of Public Safety Jake Saur warned, according to CBS News.

Officials say they are most concerned about the flooding the rupture could cause, adding that the water that would be discharged is only “slightly acidic,” according to a statement issued by Manatee County on Twitter.

“The water meets water quality standards for marine waters with the exception of pH, total phosphorus, total nitrogen, and total ammonia nitrogen,” the statement said.“It is slightly acidic, but not at a level that is expected to be a concern, nor is it expected to be toxic.”

Workers have been desperately trying to figure out ways to stop the environmental catastrophe from happening.

Authorities were working round the clock on Saturday to pump out as much water as possible in order to minimize the effect of the potential flood. However, this process is time-consuming and can take up to 12 days.

Some workers tried to plug the hole with rocks and other materials on Friday afternoon but were unsuccessful.

“Due to a possible breach of mixed saltwater from the south reservoir at the Piney Point facility, I have declared a State of Emergency for Manatee County to ensure resources are allocated for necessary response & recovery,” DeSantis tweeted on Saturday. The governor has ordered more pumps and cranes to be transported to the area.

George Kruse, a Manatee County commissioner, said he traveled to the plant on Saturday to assess the situation but had to leave the area quickly after realizing it was a safety hazard.

“We determined that it was no longer safe to be anywhere near Piney Point, so we all kind of raced off the stacks as fast as we could,” Kruse said, according to the Guardian.

According to local media reports, locals in the area have been trying to sound the alarm on the old phosphate plans for years.

The problem goes back to 1989, where a 23,000-gallon leak of sulfuric acid from a holding tank by the pond forced the evacuation of hundreds of nearby residents.

There are at least 70 gypsum stacks in the country, about 27 of which are in Florida.

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Florida governor Ron DeSantis says he will ban coronavirus ‘vaccine passports’ in the state

ron desantis limbaugh
Governor Ron DeSantis said Biden’s plans for a national vaccine passport scheme are “completely unacceptable.”

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he will ban vaccine passports.
  • It comes after reports that President Biden was pushing efforts to develop vaccine passports.
  • “We are not supporting doing any vaccine passports in the state of Florida,’ DeSantis said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he issue an executive order forbidding businesses from requiring so-called vaccine passports across the state.

DeSantis said at a press conference on Monday that he would introduce “an executive function” designed to prevent businesses from refusing to serve customers who were unable to prove they had been vaccinated, while seeking support from the Republican legislature to enshrine the act into law.

DeSantis was speaking after reports that the Biden administration was co-ordinating efforts by private companies and federal agencies to develop a scheme that will allow people to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to gain access to some businesses, offices, or restaurants.

“We are not supporting doing any vaccine passports in the state of Florida,” he said at a press conference on Monday which was broadcast by news station 10 Tampa Bay.

“It’s completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply be able to participate in normal society.

“You want to go to a movie theatre, should you have to show [a vaccine passport]? No. You want to go to a game, should you have to show that? No. You want to go to a theme park? No. We’re not supportive of that.”

The scheme could be used to allow people entry to sports bars, restaurants, and music venues, and to travel abroad.

DeSantis made the comments about vaccine passports at a press conference at the State Capitol where he signed a separate bill into law designed to shield businesses and schools from lawsuits related to the coronavirus pandemic, The Hill reported.

Vaccine passports are being developed or introduced in dozens of countries around the world and have been touted as a means for businesses that were shut during the pandemic to reopen safely.

DeSantis last week rejected the idea of introducing a lockdown in Florida after President Joe Biden said that more national restrictions might be required if the public was not “vigilant.”

“To even contemplate doing any type of lockdown, honestly it’s insane,” DeSantis said.

He said: “That’s not gonna happen in the state of Florida. We’re gonna continue doing what works, but under no circumstances would we entertain anything of the sort.”

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Gov. Ron DeSantis said ‘any type of lockdown’ in Florida is ‘insane,’ despite Biden’s warning of possibly reinstating restrictions

Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

  • Gov. Ron DeSantis said there would be no lockdowns in the state of Florida.
  • His remarks run contrary to President Joe Biden’s warning one day earlier that the US might “have to reinstate restrictions” if the public isn’t vigilant.
  • “To even contemplate doing any type of lockdown, honestly it’s insane,” DeSantis said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday shot down the notion of instituting a lockdown in his state, despite a warning from President Joe Biden that there might have to be additional coronavirus restrictions put in place if the public isn’t “vigilant.”

“To even contemplate doing any type of lockdown, honestly it’s insane,” DeSantis said during a press conference.

“That’s not gonna happen in the state of Florida,” he continued. “We’re gonna continue doing what works, but under no circumstances would we entertain anything of the sort.”

Biden in his prime-time Thursday address said beating the coronavirus pandemic depends on “national unity.”

“And national unity isn’t just how politics and politicians vote in Washington or what the loudest voices say on cable or online. Unity is what we do together as fellow Americans,” he said. “Because if we don’t stay vigilant and the conditions change, then we may have to reinstate restrictions to get back on track. And, please, we don’t want to do again.”

Biden did not specify any states when talking about the potential for added restrictions.

Still, DeSantis insisted on Friday, “we are not going to let him lock down Florida.”

“We like the fact that people have been able to work here,” the governor said. “So we’re going to continue doing what works, but under no circumstances would we entertain doing anything of the sort.”

It’s been just over one year since the WHO declared the coronavirus a pandemic. Since then, more than 29 million people in the United States have contracted the virus, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Of that, more than 500,000 Americans have died.

Florida alone has more than 1.9 million confirmed coronavirus cases, according to Hopkins data.

DeSantis’ remarks come as crowds of mask-less spring breakers appear in the state, and as numerous COVID-19 variants emerge.

“We’ve made so much progress. This is not the time to let up,” Biden said in his address. “Just as we are emerging from a dark winter into a hopeful spring and summer is not the time to not stick with the rules.”

DeSantis’ office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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