CDC extends ban on U.S. cruise ships amid data controversy
WASHINGTON — Federal health officials are extending the U.S. ban on cruise ships through the end of September as coronavirus infections rise in most U.S. states, including Florida.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that it was extending a no-sail order that had been scheduled to expire July 24.
In the order signed by CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, the agency said the cruise industry hasn’t controlled transmission of the virus on its ships.
The CDC said it was concerned whether cruise ships operating now with reduced crews were complying with practices designed to prevent transmitting the virus.
Meanwhile, hospital data related to the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. will now be collected by a private technology firm, rather than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — a move the Trump administration says will speed up reporting but one that concerns some public health leaders.
The CDC’s Redfield said Wednesday that he’s fine with the change — even though some experts fear it will further sideline the agency.
TeleTracking Technologies, based in Pittsburgh, will now collect that information.
Gregory Koblentz, a biodefense expert at George Mason University, said the change appears to be consistent with administration moves in recent months that have sidelined the CDC from the role it has played in other epidemics, as the public’s primary source of information.
“We know the administration has been trying to silence the CDC,” he said. “Now it looks like the administration might be trying to blind the CDC as well.”
The White House directed a request for comment to HHS.