ORLANDO, Fla. – Cruise lines are moving toward normalcy with the latest seal of approval coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, allowing Royal Caribbean to begin simulated cruises from the U.S. this summer.
Royal Caribbean will host a simulated cruise on the ship Freedom of the Seas between June 20 and 22. Cruise lines suspended sailings March 2020 when the country began seeing its first cases of COVID-19. The cruise line will be required to operate the first two simulated voyages at least 10% of the ship’s capacity and notify all volunteer passengers about the CDC’s travel notice on cruise ship travel, which is deemed a high-risk activity.
Royal Caribbean, headquartered in Miami, did not specify which port the ship would be sailing from. Volunteers who will be passengers must be at least 18 years old and fully vaccinated or free of high-risk medical conditions.
The state of Florida and Gov. Ron DeSantis filed a lawsuit against the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in April, though the lawsuit was sent to mediation last week. DeSantis announced the lawsuit with Alaska and Texas later joining.
“We’re filing a lawsuit against the federal government and the CDC, demanding that our cruise ships be reopened immediately,” DeSantis said last month at the Port of Miami.
As more people are vaccinated each day, Florida reached a milestone earlier this week with more than 10 million people in the state receiving at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Nearly five months after vaccinations began in the state, many counties are reworking operations.
In Orange County, vaccination sites at several recreational centers will be wrapping up operations Thursday. Seminole County is also closing its county-run sites and offering doses at mobile vaccination sites in June.
[READ YESTERDAY’S REPORT: Moderna looks to expand vaccine eligibility as Florida reports 1,898 new COVID-19 cases]
Find the state-run COVID-19 dashboard below:
The Florida Department of Health reported 2,340 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the state’s overall total to 2,316,142 cases since the virus was first detected on March 1, 2020.
Florida reported 66 new virus-related deaths Wednesday, bringing the death toll to 37,382. This number included the 735 non-residents who died in Florida.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there were currently 2,059 people with the virus hospitalized in Florida, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration.
Since March 2020, 94,550 people have been hospitalized in Florida after complications from COVID-19. That number includes the 149 new patients who have been recently hospitalized due to the virus, according to the health department’s daily report released on Wednesday.
The percent of positive results was 3.54% Tuesday out of 66,125 tests. The numbers reported daily by the state reflect test results from the day prior. Health officials say the rate should remain between 5% and 10% to prove a community has a hold of the virus and is curbing infections.
The positivity rate has remained below 5% for over 10 days in Florida.
The Florida Department of Health began releasing a daily report in December 2020 on COVID-19 vaccines administered throughout the state.
FDOH reports 8,091,013 people are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. These individuals either received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or completed a two-shot series.
As of Wednesday, 10,123,898 people have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
Below is the Central Florida region breakdown of new cases, deaths and hospitalizations for Wednesday.
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