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.”
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
“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.”
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.”
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.”
“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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
“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.
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.”
“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.”
“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.